Being a leader means knowing who you are and what you stand for—You’ve decided upon your mission and you have a vision for how to get there. It’s informed by your value system—what you care most about and what you feel is right.
Developing yourself as a leader means declaring a need in the market that you are passionate about satisfying, what your role might be in meeting that need and the audience you want to serve. It means defining your purpose in the context of the market. It’s a powerful tool for making others understand what you uniquely offer, in a concise and memorable way. It’s your brand.
Once you’ve developed your leadership brand it becomes both a filter and a roadmap for opportunities in the workplace and beyond. Here are 5 ways to market your leadership brand for managerial or managerial track positions.
Know your value proposition.
Have you identified what you in particular bring to your field of choice? Do you know what you do better than others and why others appreciate your work? To answer this question, think first about your core competency. Are you a Creator/Developer/Designer, a Packager/Connector/Seller, or a Guide/Faciltator/Fixer? Remember that your core competency may be in more than one category depending on the job you’re doing.
Next, think about your benefits, not your features. For example, Volvo’s features include special air bags and childproof locks, but its benefits are safety and security. What are the benefits you offer employers or, broadly speaking, the market?
Tell your transferable leadership skills story.
We all have thousand of skills. Yes, really. But it’s easy to forget about the things we do well because they can feel effortless, which can make us discount them. Know that even if your skills come easily to you, they may be hard to access for others. So do a deep dive into the skills you’ve developed in leading and influencing others, and how you have positively impacted their lives by encouraging and motivating them. Have you served as a mentor, or if not, does the idea of mentoring others appeal to you? Think of ways in which you’ve persuaded others and led by example. How do those skills translate to positions of interest?
Discuss a project you’ve been in charge of.
Even if you have never led a project at work, you have almost definitely done so during your college years. Describe the project in terms of the challenge, the process and the result. Pay close attention to your role and how you managed the project well. If you can show you exceeded expectations (or increased sales or some other benchmark), all the better. Try to show three examples of projects you’ve led that had positive outcomes.
Flaunt your positions of influence.
Have you ever been asked, or hired, to train someone? Training forces you to analyze and codify the process you’ve used to learn something yourself, and then make it compelling for others to learn. Maybe you teach outside of work as an adjunct or fitness instructor, or you head a committee at your church. Perhaps you serve on a non-profit board of directors. Maybe you have informally trained others in your company how to use LinkedIn or Twitter.
Any kind of training or teaching you’ve done, or any positions of influence you’ve held, present an opportunity to lead others. So think creatively about your experience and describe how you’ve been a change agent.
The best way to prove you’re a leader is to lead. Find something that needs to get done and figure out a way to do it. This can be a problem at your company that needs fixing and others either don’t want to or don’t know how to deal with it. It could be a threat to an organization you’ve followed closely and you think you have a plan to mitigate it. You might have a new business idea that fills a need in the market or solves a problem a whole industry is grappling with.
The possibilities are endless but the first step is clear. Uncover your leadership brand and you’ll be ready to take charge in a constructive manner that utilizes your best skills and your ability to lead others.