Monday, April 16, 2018

Defining "Leadership Brand" and More Insights from Mark Herbert

It's time to feature one of my favorite leadership experts on my blog again. Mark Herbert and I met back in 2011 as a result of our social media activities, and I was immediately impressed by Mark's insights gained by more than 30 years of experience as an HR executive, author, and management consultant in a variety of organizational settings ranging from entrepreneurial to Fortune 100. Currently, Mark is Principal for New Paradigms, a management consulting firm in Oregon that helps companies embrace change to engage their employees. Check out the highlights of our conversation about leadership below.

[1] QUESTION: How do you differentiate between management and leadership?
MARK HERBERT: This the age-old question isn’t it? In the simplest terms, I see management as a role and leadership as a relationship. An organization can appoint you to a role as manager and give you authority to instruct me, set expectations, and make other decisions about staff and their work. It is best when we have provided you with an appropriate skills framework to make you effective in that role. Leadership as a relationship is when people place their trust in you. They follow your direction not because of the authority that you possess, but rather because of the trust that you have earned. In another way, I have often said that leadership is not something you can demand, it is a gift that others bestow upon you. It is also an awesome responsibility. The trust that comes with leadership is something to be cultivated and tended very carefully.

[2] QUESTION: On your website (, you welcome visitors with one of my favorite quotes, "Your culture is your brand." As a brand marketing professional, I applaud you for sharing that statement, but how do you define it?
MARK HERBERT: We often forget that the most important thing in relationships with our stakeholders is where our customer or stakeholder connects with our employees. That is where your brand “lives.” You can have a great product, wonderful marketing, and other tactics, but that human-to-human contact is what transcends a transaction and makes it a relationship. When an organization states one thing and acts in another, people look at the actions. Look at the impact of Uber’s culture on the Uber “brand.” As a polarity look at Richard Branson.

[3] QUESTION: You've written about something called a "leadership brand." What is it, and what are some examples of leadership brands?
MARK HERBERT: Leadership brand is another way of saying your leadership culture. First of all, it starts at the top of the organization. The leadership style demonstrated by top leadership is typically replicated throughout the organization. You get the behavior you reinforce. Leadership brands are also different, and one isn’t better or worse than the other. Steve Jobs was a brilliant man and a tough leader. He could be extremely difficult and demanding. Jack Welch led GE successfully with a style that would likely not be tolerated by many millennials today. Both those organizations enjoyed tremendous success in their times. An excellent example of leadership brand is described in Simon Sinek’s brilliant book, Why Leaders Eat Last, where he describes the leadership paradigm of the Navy Seals, arguably the elite of our U.S. Military. The key is defining your leadership brand either current or aspirational and demanding that it is the standard of performance.

[4] QUESTION: You've written extensively about why employees are disengaged, but if you could write the most-widely read personnel manual, what three activities would you include to create inspiring workplaces?
MARK HERBERT: At its most basic, I try to teach my clients to hire hard and manage easy. What I mean by that is, first of all, you hire people whose values and commitment to your “Why” are clear. When people face a values incongruency at any level with their role or company, engagement isn’t going to happen.
Second, I tell my clients they need to embrace Stephen M. Covey’s trust model. There are three distinct levels of trust: statutory, knowledge based, and identity based. Identity based trust is the goal. That is where you have alignment. It is a difficult hurdle to achieve. It doesn’t come with degrees or certifications. It comes from shared experiences.
Third, is hire the right leadership team. When I say leadership team, I mean from the C-suite to front line leaders. The best leaders possess the following in my experience:
• Technical Competence.
• Understanding and embracing the trust and congruency models.
• Emotional and Social Intelligence.
• Emotional Awareness.
• Emotional Balance.
You will notice that the “technical” skills are only one dimension, that isn’t accidental. People don’t trust and follow you for competence and intellect alone.

[5] QUESTION: You are responsible for one of my all-time favorite leadership quotes. "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What led up to the quote?
MARK HERBERT: I have watched too many emerging leaders and entrepreneurs making the transition be overly concerned with being the “expert” on everything. Spending my early career in large companies taught me that there are many facets that make up a successful strategy. One person is typically incapable of mastering all of them. The best leaders recognize the elements that need to be represented in a complete strategy and they integrate them. They don’t try to be the first chair to use a musical analogy, they conduct the orchestra. I have watched people step up and do amazing things when they were given permission and freedom to make mistakes without fear of failing. The other is being sure that credit and success are in abundance rather than scarcity. Use recognition proactively rather than reactively.

My gratitude to Mark for sharing his timeless leadership insights. I invite you to check out Mark's previous guest appearances on the Debbie Laskey Blog at the links below:

Tips to Engage Your Workforce (June 1, 2011)

Workforce Engagement and Motivational Secrets (January 11, 2013)

Why Brand Advocacy Is Closely Tied to Employee Engagement (May 7, 2014)

Why Janitors May Be Your Best Brand Advocates (March 7, 2016)

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