Succession Success: Build your brand in alignment with your future aspirational role

A key component of developing and coaching leaders in an organisation’s leadership pipeline is supporting them to develop and manage their internal and at times external brand. Critical is to ensure that they are developing a brand that is aligned with whatever next role they aspire to, or have the potential to grow into. A key question I ask of coaches when taking on such assignments is; “what do you believe you current value proposition is? What are the key things you are valued for doing in the organisation?” Secondly is to ask “what do you believe you should be valued for if you are to take on this role? What would you expect of someone who would take on this role?” In building a personal brand to support successful successors the following things need to be considered.

  1. Recognise it is not your boss who promotes you

A critical point for many to recognise is that when taking on a senior role the person you are likely to work for needs to have experienced your ability and “brand” presence. It is your boss’s boss that will likely hire you i.e. if you are taking on a CEO or MD position the board or chairperson will have a significant say in who gets hired. Often because they have not had the opportunity to experience your ability directly, the perception they have of you will be informed by often limited interactions and the perceptions that others have shared with them. Managing your interactions consciously and ensuring the right level of engagement when interacting with these stakeholders is critical when developing your value proposition.

  1. Be it and then you will become it

Often the perception is that I will take on more responsibility, or make tougher decisions, or build my extended stakeholder relationships when I become the … The key factor is by assuming those levels of responsibility, initiative and a demonstrated ability to take the right tough commercial decisions before taking on the role, you remove questions about ability. In so doing develop a brand that is strongly aligned with the requirements of the new role, and removes the perception of risk or conversations about potential vs. ability.

  1. It is what you do, not what you say you can do that counts

Ultimately in building your brand, seeing is believing when you want to change people’s perceptions. Actively seeking opportunities to move out of your comfort zone and current brand proposition, and taking on “roles” that will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the new ability is critical. Key in this is choosing opportunities that stretch and that you can deliver on, moving to far outside of you capability and failing to deliver can have an equally devastating impact on your brand proposition. However it also demonstrates how ready you are for the aspired to role.

Written by: John Brodie

Career, CEO Succession