What does it mean to have a strong leadership brand?

June 24, 2015  |  Leadership



When developing the essentials for a strong company, many start with the three basics: mission, vision, and values. It’s thought these three components are enough — along with strong business plan — to drive the company forward to infinite success. If you think of a corporation like a car, these items could be considered the dashboard, complete with instruments that provide performance data of the machine as it moves toward its intended destination.

But if you have no idea who’s driving and how the car is best operated, you won’t go anywhere fast or, even worse, you could drive right off the road or into a collision. This is the definition in action of one of the most important yet constantly overlooked parts of corporate success: the leadership brand.

Brands such as Google, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, and Facebook are all visions of powerhouse leadership branding: trustworthy products, champions of innovation, individual empowerment, a focus on developing creative leadership and powerhouse problem solvers — all of these things come to mind when their name is uttered.  Each of these companies have a strong leadership brand, which is the guiding principles of how the leaders will do what’s best for the company with a focus on doing what’s right for the clients and the shareholders. They understand the vision, mission, and principles, but the corporation goes one step further to build leaders that are driven to meet (or even exceed) customer and investor expectations. They foster trust. They’re empowered to do what they say they’re going to do, and they have the skills and leadership acumen to do it with minimal negative impact.

If you don’t think the creation of this line item is important, you only need to look at the rate of failure for small businesses across the world to see how important it really is. Brands who fell apart because their employees weren’t empowered, informed, or engaged around the corporate vision litter the highway to success, surpassed by those who took the time to craft the policies and principles of how the work would get done. It’s not just for larger organizations: many start-ups have done a spectacular job of creating powerhouse leadership brands to the tune of billions of dollars, such as AirBandB, Uber, SoulCycle (which was acquired by Equinox,) and Seamless. They understand corporate vision only succeeds if everyone has the same view of success and a guiding set of principles to lead them there. That is the power of a strong leadership brand.

As I’ve helped created strong leadership brands in both Fortune 200 companies along with smaller start-ups, I can’t help but implore you to focus on this important part of corporate culture. Your designated commanders will surprise you with incredible ingenuity, profit-driven creativity, and fantastic performance if they know the guidelines in which they have to work. Hiring becomes a dream when others outside your company see your people in action, engaged and empowered around a centralized theme that attracts like-minded individuals. Investors will be able to sell your brand for you, clients will trust and engage with your goods and services.

You cannot succeed without it, and whether you craft it internally or work with a consulting practice such as mine to create it, it’s one of the most important things you will ever do for your business.

A leadership brand is, quite frankly, how you will operate your company. Don’t let anyone decide that for you: make that choice yourself and watch as others evangelize your guiding principles for you all the way to success and beyond.


Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.


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