How leaders influence the brand… featuring Joy Abdullah
The behaviour a brand displays is a reflection of the leadership behind that brand. It manifests through how employees are engaged in the brand and how a brand is able to add value to the customer.
The route to creating a great company brand is through its employees. How important is leadership in achieving this?
The short answer is that leadership is very important.
Historically, in Asia especially, we've approached brand from the perspective of it being a label, a design, a logo, a product or a service. There's much more to a brand than all of these elements. In any business there are two legs:
Leadership impacts culture by the way it thinks, talks and behaves creating the environment in which employees operate. To quote--"monkey see, monkey do"-- As one sees the leaders doing so does one do! Now the employee is in various functions, within the organization, resulting in interacting with different people connected to the business and its brand. Given how organizations are structured this results in a series of mini-cultures all across and all of it reflects how the leadership engages the employees in those functions.
This impacts on the culture and climate within the business and is then reflected out through the brand in its interactions with the stakeholders. It drives the advertising, communication and internal engagement from that brand in terms of its tonality and content.
We now know that in the social age we are in, leadership is not a position or a title. This makes self-leadership a very critical concept. In any organization, an executive gets promoted because of technical and functional competencies. It's only in the past decade that attitudinal competencies and people-skills have climbed onto the evaluation criteria. With technology making more and more inroads and replacing routinised work managing people become a key. In doing so the entire premise of self-leadership comes into being. With good self-leadership comes good EQ, emotional quotient, and SQ, social quotient.
It's very important and a must to be able to understand oneself in order to be able to understand others. In coaching, this requires either a developmental or a remedial type of coaching. As some get this necessity of self-development easily whereas others are still in the blame game mentality.
Being self-aware and having the ability to lead oneself enables the leader to actually lead the team through empathy which helps in creating a strong individual and human connection. How this works is by having a simple conversation where each is given time and respect as a human being and acknowledged as such.
Coupled with this comes belief. Before taking a brand out externally it's critical for the employees to fully believe in its promise and align with its values. Just like individually one has to have a belief in one's purpose. In doing this the leadership requirement is to ensure that every single doubt that comes up is answered and solved. Doing this requires an investment of time, in specific conversations, that does bring in a strong ROI down the line. It needs to be done one-on-one and not as town halls or group sessions. After the one-on-ones, the team is pulled together by its team leader where the team is asked to suggest what and how the activities should be done. That results in a transfer of ownership and creates responsibility. It's not always the leader who has to come up with the ideas. It's the team members.
That's when engagement occurs.
By creating this transfer of ownership a leader ensures full commitment from the employee. Now when we scale this up to all employees doing this, the effort level goes up through the roof, and the probability of failure reduces drastically.
In doing this leadership needs to keep in mind the types of conversations required. With six generations in the workplace now, though everyone is speaking English, the language a 60-year-old vis-a-vis a 22-year-old is totally different. The context is what is key.
For a brand to be successful, by whatever parameters are set, leadership is what makes it or breaks it.
Joy Abdullah is a strategic marketing leader who humanizes businesses by engaging employees with the business purpose
and enabling them to provide value through their ideas and advocacy.
One of ‘Malaysia’s 10 Most Engaged Marketing Folks on LinkedIn in 2015’ & One of the ‘100 Most Inspirational LinkedIn Icons In Malaysia in 2019’ he has Asia-centric international experience in business strategy, marketing, and business operations that deliver measurable and profitable growth.