21 August 2017 | By Amy Brooker Insight

Good leaders need a strong personal brand

Leaders build trust by allowing others to see a bit of what lies behind the boss’s door

This was the main message to come out of the CBI’s Leadership event – Building Your Personal Leadership Brand – held in July. The event focused on how to shape people’s perception of you as a leader according to your personal values and was led by Allyson Stewart-Allen, founder and chief executive of International Marketing Partners, a global consultancy that helps organisations better understand local business cultures and consumer behaviour.

The starting point was trust – the most important element of any brand – and how it is built through careful and consistent branding, and by portraying values that resonate with stakeholders.

The group identified the brands that resonated with their perceptions of their own leadership values. For instance, Marks and Spencer spoke to some for its dependability and approachability, while others related to Ikea’s no-nonsense approach. Each of these brands stand for something and by putting their values into action, adding consistent messaging to good branding, they generate recognition and advocacy among those that share their values.

It is the same for leadership brands. In this case, employees and colleagues are the stakeholders and the most trustworthy spokespeople for a leader. Communicating your leadership brand to them effectively is therefore of upmost importance when building trust in you as a leader.

Identifying your leadership brand is the first step toward this. And according to Allyson, the most important part of any leadership brand is your personal story – your leadership journey – that people can connect with and which cements the brand behind your values and behaviours.

The group were asked to map out their own leadership journeys, including the moments in their lives that both propelled and challenged them. Such reflection provided insight into those who had helped them along the way and how the story could be portrayed to shape others’ perceptions.

As the group found, the openness that ensued not only helped others to understand their brand, it also gave them a renewed perspective on the personal achievements that formed it.

They then discussed the next step to creating a recognisable and trustworthy brand, on a par with the household names the group first discussed: choosing how to put their leadership brand into action by using a consistent style of leadership.

And for these, Allyson drew on the the 6 principles of persuasion as set out by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin: reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking and consensus. Watch the video and find out which principle would best support your personal leadership brand.


Thank you to those who attended the event and especially to Allyson for providing an engaging and insightful talk. If you have any feedback or have a particular topic in mind that you would like us to cover in future then please do get in touch.

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