Tag | Leadership

Personal Branding and Corporate Leadership: can they co-exist?

Feb 5th, 20091 Comment

Company leaders often have strong personalities. They may even have an established personal brand. But how does their personal brand effect the strategies of the company, and the management style to implement them? Is there a conflict? Can a CEO take a company down with ineffective personal brand management?

If the foundation of brand functionality resides in consistent, effective, and convincing communication about the goals, intentions, and objectives of the company, then a leader whose brand value is at odds with these foundational elements will certainly negatively impact any company, large or small. To create a sense of cohesion between both personal and corporate brand, the leader must understand the “soul” of the company and their own “spirit of leadership.” Buy in will only occur if these two are in alignment.

Take the case of Anne Mulcahey.

What would you do if the company you work for were 18 billion dollars in debt facing imminent bankruptcy with debtors dragging you to court and your boss quits?

Well you might choose to run from the obvious train-wreck. But, Anne Mulcahey is different. Anne chose to step up. She became CEO of Xerox and faced doubters, debtors and critics head on. In a few years she cut the debt in half, raised revenue, and inspired her company’s employees, customers and vendors.

How?

In the words of Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor, she is an authentic leader. She leads from her own “true north”. She understands the purpose of her leadership. She is also conscious of the “true north” of the company, it’s soul, so to speak. She understands the entelechy of the company. She knows where the two intersect and where she can add value.

Authentic leaders lead with very consistent values, from the heart as well as the head. They exemplify courage, compassion and empathy. They focus on building long-term relationships. Her brand is consistently reinforced through those relationships, pushing messages of co-operation and cohesion. She adds value to the company brand.

Authentic leaders know they must empower those around them. Their job is to inspire. They KNOW that the personal brand value they add must be in alignment with the corporate brand of the company. CEO’s and the leaders of companies today must make an effort to “consciously brand” their company. Because adding value is more than just adding ideas, personality, and motivation, it’s about creating something people can believe in, something with a “soul.”