Need a brand-aid? Build your leadership brand in business writing

October 21, 2011 | By Deborah Dumaine

A new book caught my eye; it’s by Suzanne Bates, a local colleague of mine who is a CEO coach and the bestselling author of Speak Like a CEO. The book, Discover Your CEO Brand: Secrets to Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Value as a Leader, is an essential resource for any leader or emerging leader who “gets” the power of reputation.


Great read for an executive or emerging leader

In the book, Suzanne shares her insight and knowledge on what it takes to develop a powerful leadership brand. If you’re an executive or emerging leader, or aspire to be in any influential position, I think this book will be of interest to you.


Build your leadership brand through your daily business writing

While you digest her recommendations and try them out, remember that much of your leadership takes place in writing, especially e-mail. As you write, you’re leading—making decisions, managing, guiding, collaborating, giving feedback. As you motivate and inspire, you are creating your brand. Here are three ways to improve your leadership brand in your business writing:

  1. Motivate your audience by considering their needs. Analyze your readers and include only the information they need. Drive action by answering three key questions: Why am I writing this? What main message do I want readers to remember? What do I want readers to do?

  2. Sound a call to action. Clearly say what you need readers to do. Include action steps, timeframes, and request for action. Add headlines—and make them specific. Instead of “Problem,” try “Sales are down 4 percent.” Clearly explaining your purpose in writing will motivate your readers, drive the action you want, and position you as a confident decision-maker.

  3. Cultivate a style that enhances your leadership brand. Leaders need a positive, constructive voice in e-mail, but many don’t even know they aren’t using one. Express compassion and support. Avoid judgmental terms or complex corrective feedback—save that for an in-person discussion. Style also includes word choice, sentence and paragraph length and structure, and use of headlines. Keep paragraphs to 6 lines and sentence length to 28 words.


Increase your brand currency

It’s increasingly difficult to define your brand in the virtual workspace. If you read Suzanne’s book and start practicing the writing strategies above, you can take charge of how you speak, write, and represent yourself to increase your brand currency.