Bringing your whole and authentic self to work is key. But what does that mean? And why is it important to have a personal leadership brand?
Experts say a brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader, communicates the value you offer, positions you as an industry thought leader and enhances your company’s brand. It can also give people a reason to follow you. As John Maxwell said: “If you think you’re leading, but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk.”
Your leadership persona should tap into your key attributes, talents and skills, but it might seem daunting to figure out what that brand should be. In a Forbes article, Devapriya Khanna, founder and CEO of 212° Brand Lab, laid out three brand builders: expression, emotional intelligence and executive presence.
First, “identify your values, vision, purpose and goals and package them into an authentic expression — so that your signature style and voice are unique, yet consistent.” Second, use self-awareness as the basis for emotional intelligence. Finally, she noted a “mindful and focused leader exudes leadership presence. Mindfulness can open the door to emotional connection with oneself and others.”
Take the time and put in the effort to create the persona that reflects your reputation as a credible and trustworthy leader who others will follow to achieve the big, hairy audacious goals for your organization.
For insights on how life science executives view their leadership style, we asked our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 honorees to identify the brands they relate most with. It’s no surprise that many pointed to top global brands — Apple, Google and Amazon — as inspiration. Interestingly, Patagonia was the No. 1 brand identified, with execs noting the company’s commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and community as values that resonate with them.
Here’s what some of the industry’s top execs had to say about their personal leadership brands.
Apple to the core
“I see Apple as a brand that is fueled by creativity, innovation and disruption. It’s a company that has pushed boundaries and been forward thinking since its beginning. I aspire to drive disruptive and innovative ideas forward, and foster the curious, creative mindset that seems to be the core of the Apple brand.”
Johnna Wesley, vice president, T1D & kidney disease research, Novo Nordisk
“Apple, because they are always striving to add value for their customers while being unrelenting in their pursuit of it.”
Jennifer Gould, director of marketing excellence, GSK
Just Google it
“If I were to brand myself, I would integrate the positive aspects of Google into my brand. For example, Google is widely accessible to so many people all over the world and as a champion of the decentralized model for clinical trials, one of the key benefits of that model is to make clinical trials widely accessible to all demographics. As DCTs continue to gain momentum, they will enable greater diversity and inclusion for trial participants.”
Dr. Pamela Diamond, co-founder and chief medical officer, Curavit Clinical Research
“Google, because it is colorful and doesn’t take itself too seriously but represents clear technical excellence with world changing impact
Armon Sharei, founder and CEO, SQZ Biotechnologies
Cream of the crop
“I would choose Ben & Jerry's ice cream. There are several reasons why this is the perfect choice for me. Ben & Jerry's has a long history of supporting and promoting social justice issues. I have tried to do the same. Ben & Jerry’s co-founders have made it their mission to protect the environment and promote sustainable food systems. Moreover, Ben & Jerry's has supported free trade and partners with equity-related organizations. The causes Ben & Jerry's focuses on deeply resonate with me in my life and my career. Promoting social justice in everything we do, ending systemic racism in healthcare, being a vegetarian and protecting the environment are vital to me. Finally, I love ice cream.”
Lori Abrams, former vice president, patient advocacy and clinical research diversity, WCG
The top mouse
“My brand would be Disney because they put customer service above all else to ensure everyone has an amazing experience. They don't always get everything right, but they always listen to their employees, shareholders and customers and seek out their feedback for improvements.”
LaQuinta Jernigan, chief operating officer, Mdgroup
Finding true north
“If I were a brand, it would be The North Face. Outside of the great products they offer, the company’s mantra ‘Never Stop Exploring’ has always resonated with me. Named for the most challenging side of the mountain, the company has always encouraged its customers to push their limits, discover something new, and reach their dreams. While Karuna operates in a completely different market, we also encourage exploration, innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible to bring meaningful new treatments to people who need them.”
Andrew Miller, founder and chief operating officer, Karuna Therapeutics
Earth day, every day
“Patagonia: Their values are at the forefront of everything they do; their actions reflect their mission and values. With a focus on sustainability, quality, education and activism, they want to build the best products, cause no unnecessary harm, in the process and use their business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Dr. Barbara Klencke, chief medical officer, Sierra Oncology, a GSK company