Leadership Brand

Whether you are a first time leader or an experienced one, there is a tendency to want to do it right. Books, seminars, podcasts and presenters want you to believe that there is a right way to lead. There is not. There is a wrong way to lead (lie, cheat and steal), but after that, the field is wide open.



I have a vivid memory of a first sergeant I worked with as a brand new second lieutenant. We were responsible for training new soldiers as light wheeled vehicle mechanics and while the company commander was in charge, the first sergeant ran the show. 

First Sergeant Lovett wasn't what you would call a "collaborative" guy. What he said went and if any of the drill sergeants, non-commissioned officers, or soldiers wanted to challenge, he would simulate shaking a dice cup, look at the rank insignia on his collar and ask, "I have three up, three down and a diamond - can you beat that?"  They could not so off they went with 1SG Lovett smiling in the background.

What worked for him would not work for me and what works for me will not work for you. No two leaders lead in quite the same way. The way you lead is your leadership style or your leadership brand. Your brand is not created overnight; it evolves over time.

You probably already have a leadership brand. Do you have the right one? David Ulrich and Norm Smallwood pose this question in their Harvard Business Review blog post, Define Your Personal Leadership Brand in Five Steps. The first two steps in defining your brand begins with answering these two questions: 

  • What results do you want to achieve in the next year?
  • What do you wish to be known for?

There isn't a RIGHT answer to either of these questions. It is right, for those of you who need to know right and wrong, if it best represents who you are and what you have to offer.

As Lisa Handeberg wrote, "no brand is all that we are . . . but our brand is what precedes us in the room and the lasting impressing we leave and it affects how we do many things."

Do you know what your leadership brand is?

People are unique. Leadership experiences are too. You are responsible for yours.

The Coffee Break. Is It the Next Thing to Go?

One tired HR woman, I quickly opened my copy of this month's Harvard Business Review to take a closer look at the article, Coffee Breaks Don't Boost Productivity After All.

What? Are coffee breaks counterproductive?

In the companion interview, Boost Your Productivity with Microbreaks, Charlotte Fritz defended her finding that taking short breaks during the workday doesn't revitalize you - unless you do something job related and positive, such as praising a colleague or learning something new.

I read through the article and the interview and what struck me more than her findings on coffee and microbreaks, which I agree with BTW in terms of my self and my workday, is the idea of mentally disengaging from work.

"We have that time where we really engage in the work intensely, but then other times that we really let go of it."

Letting go is where I lose it. I have a hard time shutting down at the end of the day. During the work day, not a chance. It's a marathon from the start to finish and no cup of coffee (even with all the co-worker praising in the world) is going to give me the recovery I need.

Charlotte says she wants to "keep focusing on the idea of recovery at work. . . really looking at the things that we can do within the workday that help us keep or stay energized."

Recovery during the work day so I can come home with energy to spare is something I can get behind and I'll be waiting - with coffee in hand - to see what she finds. In the meantime . . .

What do you do to recover during your work day?