How to Position Yourself as a Leader at Work

Personal Branding As A Leader

You know that leaders command more respect, more recognition and higher pay than their peers, yet very few position themselves to be viewed as leaders the right way.

Branding yourself as a leader can be a hard to do. There is no direct way to get it; You can’t just bang on the table and demand it, you can’t beg for it, and you can’t even earn it.

The process is much simpler and more subtle than that. It’s a perception and a branding game that causes people to conclude on their own that you are a leader.

It’s inception

How do you incept a leadership brand for yourself?

Have you seen the movie Inception?

It’s a film about a group of people that plant ideas inside other people’s heads in the hopes of changing the future. The branding game is similar; you have to plant the idea in people’s head so that they think they came up with it without force or manipulation on your part.

That’s how your leadership brand is to be created: it has to be incepted.

One time I’ve worked with a project lead from a biotech company who was struggling to get the respect of her team members. She started working with me after an embarrassing incident at work.

See, she was trying to describe her vision for the future of the project, and she kept getting interrupted left and right. She could never speak a full sentence. So she broke down and started yelling at everyone demanding respect because of her years of experience at work and left the meeting crying.

At that moment she thought she could force them to respect her opinion, to view her as the leader. Obviously, that did not work, and that will never work for anyone.

After that incident, she knew that she needed help. We worked on many things, including behaviors, linguistic patterns, confidence, but most importantly we worked on her branding at the company. It took no time to get her reputation back as a leader following the systematic way you will learn below.

How to brand yourself as a leader?

Leaders in the workplace have three qualities in common. If you want to be branded as a leader, then exhibit these qualities and automatically your peers and management will view you as a leader.

They will not be able to help it. It’s inception.

The four qualities you need to create the leadership brand:

1- Strategic: You want to be viewed as a strategic person and not just a soldier. A soldier does what they are told and takes care of execution. It’s good because it gets things done and it’s ideal for an entry level individual contributor; you want to be more than that. You want to be viewed as strategic. The best way to be viewed as strategic is through how you communicate.

2- Mentor: You want to be viewed as a mentor. Find other people who are not at your level in the organization and mentor them. You can help with resources, planning, execution, connections, and whatever they need to succeed.

It is not to be done in the shadows; you have to bring it up to your manager and let him/her know that you are doing this. Don’t call it mentoring, just call it helping others in the organization, do it long enough, and you will be labeled as a good mentor.

Good communicator: The biggest glass ceiling for professionals now is their communication skills. Improve your skills, and you will shatter the glass ceiling. You can improve this by taking public speaking training and coaching to improve your skills and confidence.

Certainty: People don’t follow uncertainty. People want reassurance that they will be ok and they look for leaders to give them that sense. Certainty does not mean arrogant, cocky, or condescending. It means that you convey confidence when you are communicating. It will show through your body language, your eye contact and your choice of language.

One time on a road trip, a friend asked to drive instead of me for a little bit. Once he got behind the wheel, he said, with hesitation in his voice,  “oh how do I turn this thing on, it’s my first time driving an SUV.” Automatically, everyone in the car objected to him driving and I ended up driving the rest of the trip. He could have been the best driver ever, but hesitation and lack of certainty made all of us doubt him. Are you doing that in your meetings?

Conclusion

Building your brand as a leader is an important thing for your career. If you care about your career, then you can’t leave it to chance, and you can’t ignore it. To be branded as a leader in your organization, you can’t do it directly; you have to incept it in the minds of your colleagues and management. You do inception by having them conclude your leadership by triggering four qualities: Being strategic, being a mentor, being a good communicator, and being certain.

About Author 

Peter Khoury: Founder @ MagneticSpeaking X-Pharmaceutical Engineer, turned author, national speaker and executive presentation coach.

In addition to Public Speaking training, Peter is a regular speaker on the topics of Negotiations, Conflict Management and Leadership. He is the author of the book “Self-Leadership Guide.

  • John

    Peter, Great article! Coincidentally I have a situation that came about this morning regarding mentoring that I was waffling on because of the small time commitment. Now I see this as an opportunity to help someone succeed while elevating my position in the group as a leader. Thanks for sharing.

    • Awesome John, I found that doing the mentoring is the first step, the second is to tell others that you did the mentoring without offending the person you mentor. The good news is that when you talk about the mentoring you do, you don’t have to mention the name of the person but say something like”last week I was helping out this new guy in our industry, and he was having problem x, and I showed him how to hand x, by doing y… and that made a huge difference to his bottom line w%” – if you share something like that once a week or even once a month with others, they will conclude that you are a great mentor and that will tick one of the boxes on the leadership positioning.

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