Almost fifteen years ago, author, speaker, and business leader Simon Sinek published one of his best-known works, Start With Why. In it, Sinek points out a powerful reversal of modern marketing: sharing your product with someone isn’t about what you sell as much as it is about why.

“Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100%. Some know how they do it. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by why, I don’t mean to make a profit. That’s a result. By why, I mean what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?”

And in fact, this is not just a marketing maneuver – it is a leadership principle!

You may be familiar with John Maxwell’s definition of leadership:

“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

And true influence cannot be bought, transferred, or manufactured… it can only be earned through an authentic relationship. A leader who develops a strong leadership brand around their personal convictions will motivate their teams and earn their buy-in.

In fact, this is such a strong pillar of influential leadership that the full title of Sinek’s book is Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. John F. Kennedy. Steve Jobs. Sinek attributes the impact of these men to their ability to communicate their why authentically and powerfully – and as leaders, we can strive to do the same with these five strategies:

1. Know your core values.

Current research shows that 95% of our daily activity is unconscious. That means we think the majority of our thoughts, make the majority of our decisions, and take the majority of our actions without putting much thought into it. But something is motivating us. Everything we do reveals a priority. Ask yourself some big-picture questions to understand what you value. What do you consider when making a decision? What shows up in your daily routine, and why? Consider what drives you, and turn your thoughts into a list of 3-5 core values.

2. Assess your current brand.

Anything and everything is built on a foundation – and we can only begin making proper progress once we understand where we are currently. Seek feedback from your teams to understand how they perceive you. Clearly communicate that this feedback is judgment-free, and consider utilizing anonymous surveys of 360-degree feedback avenues to collect their insights.

3. Cultivate self-awareness.

Self-awareness is not just helpful for developing a leadership brand. It is a critical life skill, foundational to emotional intelligence, personal development – oh, and leadership in general! Leaders should regularly invest time in reflection over their actions and decisions and whether or not they align with the leadership brand they are trying to develop.

4. Consistently communicate your brand.

Reflection, understanding, and insight can begin a brand, but consistency and communication see it through. Demonstration of the brand through words, actions, and decisions – all of them – communicate the brand to team members and stakeholders.

5. Continue to learn and adapt.

On the surface the idea of a brand defies change. After all, a brand is supposed to be immediately recognizable – in essence, it is a leader’s reputation. But effective leaders are constantly seeking the next level of growth or the next game-changing insight. Consider making adaptability or openness to feedback a pillar of your leadership brand, and then act on it: read books, attend conferences, and seek mentorship opportunities.

Little is as precious to a leader as their leadership brand. Warren Buffet said,

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

What will you do differently this week? And how will your reputation benefit?

That’s all for now. 🙂

Become your best version,