Attractive employer brands start with attractive leadership

Culture is everything when it comes to attracting and retaining people. Naturally other factors have decisive impact but there is a difference from affecting someone in a specific recruitment situation from attracting or retaining someone more long-term. While it’s my experience that many can be lured by a good offer of a high base salary and benefits those are rarely the things that would make someone interested when discussing employers, work or career in general.

Amazing work Daniel. You made us all proud.” these words came from my colleague after I finished my introduction talk at this years Swedish Startup Gala. As the CEO of SUP46 I represent the entire team, the ambassadors, the interns, the volunteers, the advocates and the friends – everyone.

People want to feel proud of what they are part of. This pride reminds them that they have made the right choice in joining and staying – the latter is a choice that has to be reminded every single day. In one way or another.

And this feeling of being proud of what they are part of, is something that grows from the result of various things where leadership have a dominant impact.

In general people are attracted by and want to work for an employer which shows values in line with their own and which suits their personality. They want to feel they belong and that comes down much to being part of a team that shares their ambitions, a line of work where they feel they contribute to something they believe in. All this meanwhile feeling professionally challenged and for a vision inspirational enough to commit to.

That is why my colleagues feedback is of such importance. It shows if he still believes in what we’re doing. Leadership is everything about being the beacon about everyones expectations. Everything communicated, represented and shown is going to resonate with not only the closest colleagues but also your entire organisation to large extent. It’s going to impact whether people around you become more engaged with the company, their passion for what they’re doing, their sense of meaning in their line of work, the extent of which they refer connections in their network to join them on their professional journey etc.

Leadership is complicated. Your actions sends signals, not only your communication. Would some in your team get the notion that you’re planning on heading a certain direction and they become insecure what that’ll mean, you risk directly losing engagement with those.

Clarity. Transparency. Honesty. Integrity. Care and compassion. All these being important pillars for any leader in order to not risk disengaging people around you and thereby doing your job in keeping the employer brand attractive to join and remain with. Care and compassion being perhaps the most important. In the end, people will follow someone they respect and who not only help them progress but who stand by them and fight -for- them. A leader of the 21st century must care more for the team than his own personal agenda. And in the end that means creating a common goal worth following rather than following a single individual.

Attractive leadership therefore is not mainly about being followed, it is about creating something to follow. It is not about emphasising your own ego and trying to work up an image others should look up to, it is about representing, building and emphasising the vision, the strategy and the goal which the team is committed to reach.

One of the greatest challenges corporations has is to find the right leaders. Those people who are passionate about products and people. Those who are caring of society and to leave something to coming generations.

Attractive leadership is the core of any employer brand. It will highly determine how the culture develops and is felt. Every leader must ask themselves the magic question; What are we?

Answering that question will tell a story of what makes you special and stand out among others. It also involves answering things that may not have been responded to. The answer is a mix of what is noticed, felt, expressed and those things people around you desires and wish for without communicating them.

Making people belong will engage those around you. And it starts by understanding people and acting upon it. It never starts with you dictating, pointing with your hand or caring to much about yourself.

I told my colleague I was happy he felt my performance at stage was a great one. I did this because I know how hard we all work for doing great things. I intend to focus just as much on anything with the same dedication that I know our team needs.

And I do it because we’re a team. And in every team, we all have a role to play with responsibilities. I have mine.

Having worked with both the research-, social media & social sourcing-, consulting-, job board-, and as of late the Leadership side of employer branding since 2005, I’ve held 1000+ seminars, workshops and lectures on the topic of how employers attract, recruit and retain talent.

At this moment I am holding lectures on the topic of: “Leadership impact on Employer Branding”. And as always, I am delighted to share.

The bullets above is from a presentation on the topic and this specific slide tells which the most important attributes a leader faces in order to not risk disengage the team.

Many thanks for reading.

Daniel Sonesson