“An army of a thousand is easy to find, but, ah, how difficult to find a general.”  (Chinese proverb)

Remember the childhood game “Follow the Leader”? The game couldn’t start until someone claimed the role of leader and made it clear that they were the one to follow. No matter how many years have passed since you last played this game, never forget that your adult professional and personal life will be enhanced when you learn how to stand out in the real world and brand yourself as a leader. You can start this branding process today by first cultivating an image that makes you identifiable to others.

Your image should support your brand by making you distinct from everyone else. An effectively managed image communicates the value you can deliver to those in your sphere of influence; ultimately, your image cements your brand and communicates it to all with whom you interact.

You can communicate your leadership presence by taking the time to cultivate these 5 methods of sharpening your image:

1.   Focus on developing poise: The ability to keep a cool head in an emergency, by being poised in the midst of excitement, and  refusing to be stampeded are true marks of leadership.”  When it comes to being poised, communicate consistency of character in a way that wins trust in your ability to exhibit poise regardless of the moment’s stress, conflict and crises.

2.   Manage non-verbal communication: Pay attention to what your body is communicating at all times.  If you are sending the wrong signals with your body language and gestures, take responsibility by acknowledging mistakes and make the necessary course corrections.

3.   Pay attention to your grooming: A leader understands the importance of balanced self care, which communicates your ability to effectively lead your own life.

4.   Communicate like a leader: Develop your vocabulary, fillers, rate and speed, tone, pronunciation and grammar.  Avoid profanity and controversial conversations in the workplace. Learn to communicate, verbally and non-verbally, with a confident grace towards others that communicates your character.

5.   Strengthen your visual appearance: Learn effective ways to enhance your outer image (clothing, color choices, etc.) so that it aligns with the beauty of your inner qualities and characteristics.  As a leader, you owe it to yourself to show the world the best of who you are on the inside.

Hopefully, you can follow and incorporate at least one of these examples in your life.  By doing so, you will in turn create remarkable examples for others to follow.