How Iconic Brands Are Leading the Pack During Transitions

What Your Company Needs To Be Doing to Blaze Its Own Trail

Iconic brands lead from the top down but they know that execution works from the inside out.

Major corporations are shifting leadership at a rapid rate. Take Nike for example, announcing a new CEO after Mark Parker catapulted stock and success over the last decade. But Parker’s not going anywhere, he’s been a long-time player in Nike and has come up the ranks in well-earned form and it shows.

The new CEO John Donahue who steps up in mid-January brings with him, the technology piece that will inevitably keep Nike leading the pack and springboard off the powerhouse leadership of Parker, IF leadership can navigate the transition just right.

Here are 7 keys you need to blaze a trail in the new year:

Now more than ever you have to be reinventing yourself, pushing yourself, furthering your understanding and capabilities. It’s just not possible to stick your head in the sand and expect to stay on top. Always be paying attention to the market place.

“Change is inevitable with the pace of technology, transitions might need to happen fast and ideally they need to be as smooth as possible.” Renee Schlachter of Extensis


Congruent clarity creates a culture of common alignment. Say that 3 times fast and instill that kind of confidence in your people practices and that’s how you transform a workplace. Culture comes from a leadership that is established through clear alignment to values. Once that’s in place, leadership better be setting a good example. Then train your people from the beginning with common and congruent language the exudes through your brand.


This is not just with your external marketing message, it also happens to be the biggest factor in the success of the internal operations and function of some of the most successful and iconic brands. Leaders lose if they don’t come from a place of congruency in their actions. Ever hear this: ‘Your actions speak so loudly I can hardly hear what you’re saying…’

The past year has shown some of the highest rates of leadership changes in the most iconic brands. With a new CEO, you’ll often see a big rebrand, especially if there is an ego. If you go in reinventing you better be clear from the top down.  If you don’t change mindset and culture to go along with that big rebrand you’ll shrink your lead from sheer confusion.

4. KEEP IT REAL in all levels of leadership

If you can’t relate to all levels of the organization while remaining steadfast to your core values you’ll lose your internal infrastructure. It may not happen overnight, but each part of the scaffolding of the organization will begin to implode.

5. BUILD from within

“If it makes sense – advance and train from within.” VP of XeniumHR, Alishia Young

Many companies have had exceptional success when they hire within, however, if you need to bring in fresh, outside eyes and the specialized skills to take your company to the next level, then that’s your best choice.

Nike’s shift of leadership comes from the clarity of taking their company to the next level using technology, as a result, they’ve made a congruent move bringing in that outside expert.


Staying on top means ensuring your employees have the skills and support of expanding their skills internally. Constantly learning and improving yourself and making sure your managers and employees are doing the same is crucial. People are no longer hired for a certain skill, instead, they need to be multi-faceted and be able to implement or adapt. If you don’t have the skills consider training employees internally and find a balance going forward.

“Balance your birds-eye view and continue to push forward and evolve at a faster pace.  No department can turn a blind eye to what’s coming” VP of XeniumHR, Alishia Young

7. LISTEN to people

Which way technology needs to be deployed and at what speed is a big conversation you better be having. Listen with the intent to understand, to learn, to help. If you want to become a better listener, the best place to start is not talking.

After returning from a Comcast Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning conference recently, I’m more aware than ever that the game of listening has changed. NBC/Comcast is fast and furious on this. Their algorithms are set up to listen to every single customer – not just their words but every keystroke and swipe. The infrastructure in place with AI is making every person’s preferences available down to when they start to push back – with their money, their time and their attention.

There is no standard any longer. Not with the ability of AI to calculate and make algorithms that change on a word, inflection or swipe. This is huge. It changes the playing field for those brands that can afford to pivot quickly. But it’s still consumer-driven. AI can be used to track every move of the consumer and if you pay attention, you’ll recognize it as ancient wisdom and use it wisely.

Listening to what people are saying is still one of the biggest factors in any iconic brand.

Is there still room for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the world? You bet. People still make up the world.

People want to be heard. They want their voice to matter. Whether that’s your employee, your leaders or your customers.

And there are big answers in what people are saying. But you can’t be reactive to them.

You have to see the bigger picture and stay focused on your deliverables.

Hoard your stock, your inventory and you won’t be a viable organization. Whether those deliverables are apps, movies, a service, or people in seats or scrolling on their phones, it’s about high touch service and being a partner with your customers, employees and leaders.

Start implementing the above and watch your results. The metrics will tell you a story. Whether you are in the middle of the confused chaos of a big transition or a small rebrand, implement the advice above and you’ll see your brand take the lead.

Stephana Johnson is an entrepreneur and founder of Powerhouse Leaders, she writes, speaks and through her coaching programs helps entrepreneurs and execs get more results with less BS for themselves, their team and their bottom line. Visit or contact

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