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EMPLOYER BRAND branded leadership Implementing a branded leadership program While every organisation is different, every implementation plan should touch on at least the following steps: 1. Agree on brand differentiators as fundamental decision tools • Work with your heads of operations to understand ‘why we do things this way around here’ then work with your chief marketing officer to understand why the marketplace rewards your current brand differentiators. • If there is any daylight at all between these perspectives, facilitate discussions about how to close the gap. 2. Assess the current decision-making process • What criteria does your organisation use to define leadership? • What do you need to do to move your leadership to a more universal, inclusive definition? • Which leaders need to put their support behind this changed definition? • Work with the leadership team to align the answers to these questions with the branddriven differentiators. 3. Define leadership simply • Distil the product of these discussions down to a few, simple principles. Your goals should be simple enough to fit on a cocktail napkin; memorable enough to recite after hearing them once. • Validate with leaders. Gather their commitment to participate in a cascade-based process to explain them. 4. Managing the change process • Transforming an organisational culture from one that is fixated on decision-making authority residing only in the top ranks into a branded leadership culture involves change that needs to be managed carefully in an open and transparent environment. • Clearly define the reason and communicate the vision for change throughout the organisation. • Communications should begin with a clearly defined vision, objectives and the benefits of a branded leadership culture. 5. Use internal communication tools • With increasingly dispersed global workforces and the pace of change there is a need for internal communication tools to replace traditional faceto-face meetings to ensure decision making does not become clogged in the executive suite and employees are empowered to make decisions that support the customer promise. • IBM uses an internal social networking platform called ‘Beehive’. One of the main uses of the network is not for social chat on company time, but for connecting and collaborating with colleagues across different time zones, which results in a culture where the collective wisdom of the workforce drives innovation and decision making across all levels of the organisation. 6. Align rewards and recognition • Traditionally companies reward leaders based on transactional measures such as sales, staffing costs and whether budgets have been achieved or exceeded – so this is where leaders focus their efforts at the expense of employee engagement. • Recognising and rewarding leaders who measure high on engaging employees and tracking this to financial outcomes is a win-win for all – the company, the leader and the employee. • Leaders tend to focus their efforts on where they know they are being measured so they often pass off employee engagement as merely ‘the soft stuff!’ This is your, and their, opportunity to help the workforce join the mission of the brand. About the authors Brett Minchington (www.brettminchington. com) is the chairman/ CEO of Employer Brand International, a global authority, strategist and corporate advisor on employer branding. He will be presenting at the 2011 Australian Employer Branding summits in April – for further details please see www.collectivelearning Dr David Kippen PhD is president and CEO of Evviva Brands ( and a globally-recognised leader in brand strategy 7. Connected thinking • Encourage collaboration between business units responsible for the corporate, consumer and employer brand strategies. Use ‘connected thinking’ to enhance understanding of the role and the importance of aligning the customer promise with leadership values, behaviours and actions. • Marketing wants to target consumers, and human resources really does the same thing in that it targets potential employees. Communications is the function that ties it all together. Collaboration that leverages synergies will result in a brand leadership culture where the customer promise is aligned with the employee promise. Successful implementation requires strong commitment and visible sponsorship from senior leaders. But surprisingly, it’s not the uphill push you might expect. In our experience, people at most organisations show up wanting to do the right thing. They want to contribute to their organisation’s success; the more closely they’re able to align their behaviours to brand drivers, the more engaged they become. As engagement and empowerment are so closely linked, the empowering message at the heart of decision-based, branded leadership tends to be warmly embraced at every level. HC 21

Human Capital magazine issue 9.04

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