Friday, December 14, 2012

From the Article Archive: How to Build a Leadership Brand that Your Company Values

Your ideal leadership brand is one that utilizes your talents, feeds your passions, and delivers a service that is needed and wanted by your company.

Titina Ott is Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness with a leading global software corporation, and founder of their corporate women’s initiative. Ott’s advice to any woman hoping to build a dynamic leadership brand is to understand what you are passionate about, understand how that aligns with your company’s objectives, and clearly articulate it to your manager.
Understand what you are passionate about 
When describing her leadership brand, Ott said, “Throughout my career, I have always been known as the go-to person. They would say, Give it to Titinashe will find a solution. I was known for my ability to work in high-pressure, short-term situations, building something new from the ground up. When the solution was in place, I would move on.”

Ott reached a point in her career seven years ago where she began to ask herself what it really meant, to be a leader. “For me, leadership is all about finding the possibilities in others,” she said. This insight would eventually lead to her current role, overseeing global strategy to improve employee engagement and to strengthen alignment of talent to business strategy for over 14,000 employees.
“My brand now includes helping others find their possibilities,” she said, demonstrating her passion for developing and enabling others. This is evident not only in her role but also in her drive to create a women’s leadership initiative that cultivates and retains her company’s female talent.
Articulate how your passions align with your company’s objectives
It is vital in recessionary times to build a brand that demonstrates how you are adding value to your company. Ott believes it is important that every employee is able to create a direct “line of sight” between what they do each day to their organization’s bottom line. She designs and leads webinars for employees on how to do this.

Her step-by-step approach is as follows:

  1. Understand your company’s vision, goals, and value proposition. These can be found on your company’s web site.
  2. Understand the goals for your line of business by asking your manager.
  3. Understand your team’s goals, objectives, and priorities. Ask your manager, as this is a critical part of their role.
  4. Take a look at your development plan for the year. It is your responsibility to put this plan together. Map your goals to objectives for the company, your line of business, and your team.
  5. Discuss your plan with your manager to gain his or her alignment. Ott states, “A plan is not effective unless your manager knows about it, acknowledges it, and assists in providing the opportunities and support to execute against it.”
Ott understands that it’s not always easy to find an alignment between passions and organizational goals, but emphasizes “You a really have to think about this. We all work in a world that’s about the bottom line. Ask yourself if what you are passionate about is important (to your company), and to what level you are willing to adjust. You need to find the balance that’s right for you.”
If after this process of self-discovery you find there’s no alignment, Ott agrees, “It’s OK to explore other opportunities.”
Build an industry-wide brand
Ott stressed the value of building a brand that reaches beyond your company. “Having an industry-wide presence is important. Don’t develop yourself in a silo inside the culture of your company.”

“Develop skills that work independently of your company’s culture,” she advised, which she models by participating in activities outside her company that include speaking at national women’s leadership conferences and serving on several non-profit boards and leadership programs in her local community.

Titina Ott was a guest speaker in the webinar Create Your Leadership Brand, part of the Emerging Women Leaders webinar series.

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