This past week, the SHAMBAUGH team and I had the good fortune of leading a global female leadership program. In this intensive three-day event, we covered 21st Century Leadership Trends as well as a vast array of timely and relevant topics from Leading Change, Communicating with Impact, Strategic Leadership, and Developing Strategic Relationships.
Addressing these incredible, already successful female leaders was like speaking to a panel at the United Nations, as the women came from many countries including Asia, South Africa, Latin America, Europe, Canada, and the United States. While the women offered diverse perspectives, knowledge, and insights, they also had one notable similarity: all were experiencing significant change at both the company and local levels. These days, many organizations are experiencing significant changes worldwide, creating a situation that calls for leaders to avoid taking for granted their professional reputation and brand. Whether your organization is going through change or you personally are looking to evolve in your career or expand your impact and visibility, knowing your differentiating qualities and having a strategy that aligns with your career objectives and opportunities now and in the future are key - particularly during times of corporate transition.
This program allowed the female leader attendees to examine and build upon their current brand and put together a personal action plan that addressed some of the following insights and tools provided during the session:
Know Yourself and Let Your Skills be Known
Most leaders only spend 5 percent of their time examining their differentiating strengths/unique value and don't take time to understand the impact they are having on others. Those leaders who take the time to examine these aspects about themselves are the ones who are most successful and fulfilled in their careers.
A majority of the women in the global leadership program admitted they were too busy or believed that their great results should suffice. Not so. A powerful brand that will naturally evolve over time starts with looking inward and identifying key dimensions of yourself that make you unique and will help you continue to be relevant based on changing conditions and new opportunities. These women had all reached that leadership level where it becomes more important to identify differentiating qualities that go beyond your job and technical skills, such as leading in change or crisis, building high performance teams, having a bias toward taking action, or being a great connector and influencer.
It's not only important to know your differentiating qualities but to also understand if those qualities align with how others perceive you. The women attendees' homework assignment was to seek feedback from four or five stakeholders - for deepening their awareness of how others view their qualities and to identify and address important gaps to ensure they are creating and managing the ideal impression.
Be Intentional About Sharing Your Story with Others
I asked the women how comfortable they were sharing their brand with others, and about 2 percent of the women raised their hand. What's important to note is that people can't know you by osmosis. Don't be that person being considered for an opportunity in a talent review meeting that leaders don't really know despite the fact that you're doing a great job. Consider the following:
- Be vocal with decision makers to communicate a key challenge and how you dealt with it.
- Cultivate influential relationships and tap into your network for help in getting your brand out there.
- Have a strong online presence that showcases your success and allows you to differentiate your brand.
Have a Brand Strategy
As your career aspirations and goals evolve so does your brand, and in most cases what got you to your current level of success may not work for you in the future. That's why it's so important to reinvent or refresh your brand along the way. In some cases, the roles that you evolve or advance into at your organization did not previously exist. So it's important to take the time to define your value and create a brand strategy that aligns with your future goals and career aspirations - as well as with the company's overarching business objectives and transformation efforts.
An effective brand strategy also calls for you to clearly describe your target audience - stakeholders who need to know you in order to help you achieve your goals. Once you've identified these individuals, the next goal is to get them on board as your advocates, enhance your visibility in key places, and identify opportunities you may not be aware of that align with your future aspirations and goals.
Leave Your Legacy
In closing, I shared with these awesome women that they are the storytellers of their own lives, and every day they create or influence the conversations people have about them when they are not in the room. People may forget what you did but will remember how you made them feel and the positive difference you made in their lives over the course of your leadership.
With that in mind, I encouraged the group to strive to build teams that are stronger than they could be alone and to set their teams up for success before they leave. Most great leaders became that way only from others helping them along the way. For that reason alone, a big part of any leader's legacy should be channeled toward giving back, believing in others, and leaving something behind that will make their sphere of influence a better place. When this happens, you will not only thrive in your own role, but you will also have a positive impact on those you serve within and outside your organization.
To learn more about SHAMBAUGH's Taking Women Leaders to the Next Level, and programs for both existing and current leaders, visit www.shambaughleadership.com.
Hear Rebecca Shambaugh's new keynote on "All Voices on Deck: The Power of Integrated Leadership" by contacting Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Shambaugh is author of the best-selling books It's Not a Glass Ceiling, It's a Sticky Floor, Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton, and Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results.
Follow Rebecca Shambaugh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/beckyshambaugh