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Brand Leadership

The Four Virtues Of Brand Leadership


The Four Virtues Of Brand Leadership

What often passes for leadership wisdom in the corporate world today is a list of management techniques over leadership substance. However, brand leadership is linked to organizational leadership, which is linked to individual character that has substance. There are four qualities of individual leadership that are commonly absent from current discussions about corporate or brand leadership. These qualities are individual: self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism.  

All people can become more effective leaders if they develop an understanding of these virtues. The more self-aware a person becomes the more they are able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, values and worldview. This is a necessary precondition for becoming aware of these same things within your organization. Self-aware organizations become more authentic and powerful in their character and identity. Brands that aren’t self-aware can quickly lose the goodwill that has taken decades to build, just ask Volkswagen.

Once an organization thoroughly understands its strengths, weaknesses and values then it can confidently innovate and adapt to a changing world in a way that will be consistent with the purpose and character of the brand.

Our schools often teach and management consultants often present an excessively logical and skills based approach to business leadership. Authentic leadership in my experience comes more from self-mastery than from learning an endless list of technical skills. And I’m not the only one who thinks this.

The Father Of Modern Business Management

Peter Drucker was a pioneer in leadership studies for more than three decades. He has written persuasively on the ramification of our changing economy, particularly the technology driven shift toward the knowledge economy. Not so many years ago work for most people entailed following orders and performing assigned jobs. Not so today. Most work roles have largely become self-managing and the big picture is anything but predictable. There are far fewer supervisors to give direction. Companies have continuously and ruthlessly “de-layered”, eliminating middle management in the pursuit of efficiency. Employees who once might have been reprimanded for not clearing decisions with managers before making them will today more likely be penalized for not showing enough initiative.

Peter Drucker focused on the human implications of this shift. “How do workers succeed in such an environment?” Skills once critical for top management have become essential for everyone. No longer can one succeed – or even survive – simply by following orders. Each employee is more and more a self-manager making decisions on his or her own. Moreover, with the accelerated pace of change, roles and tasks evolve constantly, requiring continuous judgment and the ability to learn on the fly.

Who Thrives In Such Environments?

Those who can learn, innovate, exercise good judgment, take responsibilities for their actions and take risks. These aren’t technical skills. They come from self-understanding, not vocational training. As Drucker argued in the Harvard Business Review, in this environment, “… successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work and their values.” Of course success in any job is not possible without technical skills. But, whereas those skills alone may have constituted a success formula in the past, employees today must also be able to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and how their working style equips them for the fast-paced constantly changing work environment. In other words they need to become self-aware.

While the important dimensions of how to become more self-aware are covered in Soulful Branding – Unlock The Hidden Energy in Your Company & Brand, there are several organizational case studies that really bring this learning to life. These case studies will be revealed at The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World, May 2-4, 2016 in San Diego, California. During our time together we will share in greater detail the virtues required of today’s Brand Leaders and how you can adopt and implement them.

A Higher Plane

Brand Leaders have an extra gear or two that brand managers don’t have. They operate with a little more intensity, ingenuity, love and heroism. There is a difference between simply being creative and being innovative. Being creative involves coming up with new ideas, and with seeing connections between things that no one else has. Innovation is about using creative ideas to make money and build a business. There is a big difference. There is an entrepreneurial component to being an innovator. Entrepreneurs are creative, but they know how to organize people and processes around a new ideas to get them produced and sold. Without “passion” and “faith” in unseen outcomes this process of authentic leadership is not complete. Brand leadership requires real heroism.

How can middle management demonstrate this kind of leadership? Empathy, social skills, understanding human motivation are examples of useful marketing skills that come from greater self-awareness. Soulful Branding uncovers additional personal qualities that support authentic leadership in brands.

How many companies interview job candidates with self-awareness in mind? How many companies attempt to develop ingenuity, love and heroism in employees? And when companies identify future leaders, how many do so on the basis of these human qualities? Yet it is precisely these hidden character traits that support some of the worlds strongest brands.

What is happening now is authentic leadership. Every company, category and situation is different. But, brand leadership is really situational. It requires a compass more than a checklist. The four virtues of self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism are the compass that can keep you out front.

Take The Steps To Brand Leadership. Join us for The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World, May 2-4, 2016 in San Diego, California. A fun, competitive-learning experience reserved for 50 marketing oriented leaders and professionals.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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