Why Experience, Hard Work and Personality are Overrated as Personal Brand Traits for Leaders.

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What makes a leader, a leader?

This was – and is – a question that has always intrigued me.

Having sat in the boardrooms of fast scaling organizations, long-established multi-nationals across several industries and spent countless hours picking the brains of top performers – I realized that some of the core attributes which – even when sounding like a powerful combination – did not necessarily lead to high achievers becoming leaders.

It is not down to “experience”. Everyone who has been working in an industry for 10-15+ years has developed experience in their area of expertise.

It is not down to “hard work”. This is not a differentiator beyond a mid-management level.

It is not down to “strength of personality” (although important).
What sets leaders apart is the quality judgement they have developed throughout their careers.

A leader’s judgment – sharpened through the wins and losses over the course of their career – from the smallest day to day decisions to the biggest ones – has proven to consistently be the key element that makes them more effective than other high achievers in their organization.
And it is this wisdom – more than just experience, more than just grinding in the hours, more than being personable (which judgement should inform) that leads boards to select leaders to lead, and high achievers to follow.

Judgement is wisdom.

So for leaders who are proactive and ambitious about maximizing the potential of their personal leadership brand and reputation – the ability to promote and communicate this wisdom to relevant external stakeholders is key, whether that be to create new business opportunities (buy-sell, partnerships, attracting key talent), or position themselves as thought leaders in their field.

Communicating wisdom and judgement – whether that be online, offline, through verbal/non-verbal and experiential communication – is something a lot of leaders can work on.

This is not because they are not competent at doing this – or even excellent at communicating their value.

It is because of who they are competing with.

When it comes to leadership personal branding, leaders are competing with other leaders – who are also going to be excellent, and who is also going to be trying to influence the same external stakeholders.

A certain bar has been set: excellence is expected, and experience, hard work and strength of personality are not going to be the ultimate differentiators.

The goal of a leader when looking to optimize their personal brand for tangible outcomes should be to find the 1% opportunities to level up their personal brand to exceptional when the standard is excellence.

We have identified where leaders can find these 1% opportunities to gain an edge over their competitors when it comes to personal branding and reputation management – particularly for those in finance as well as global real estate, and have developed case studies to show our methods in action.

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