A niche can be a scary thing for a business. It seems counterintuitive to narrow the focus of the organization, yet it is a proven way to propel new businesses and reinvigorate organizations languishing on a plateau.

In this age of social media, personal branding and embracing our why, successful leaders are taking a page from the business playbook and creating their own leadership niche to propel their careers forward.

Go Small to Go Big

Just like with an organization, leaders can benefit from focusing on a specialty skill set to build their personal brand. By embracing a leadership niche, we can open more opportunities to strengthen our skills.

This strategy is often embraced and understood most easily in turnaround situations. Private equity firms invest in an organization and need to restructure the business to align with their approach and portfolio.

They bring in their team of specialists who understand this type of work. Because of their experience, they can hit the ground running.

Leadership niches are not limited to turnarounds. Ironically, the niche market is quite varied.

Leaders can specialize in different stages of the business journey, like startup, growth or transition. Or they can focus on different need specialties — like mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, or diversification — all of which supersede industries.

In addition to business changes, leaders can drill down further by focusing on specific industries.

Examples include retail turnaround specialists; creating online platforms for brick and mortar stores; building international presence in the service industry; franchising medical offices; combining retail and hospitality, and so on. All these specifics enable us to focus more freely on our own expertise.

Me, me, me

Creating a niche also affords us the opportunity to be better leaders by helping us become more genuine and enabling us to maintain clarity.

For example, by embracing a niche we can choose an area of leadership that supports our interests, goals and passions. By aligning our work with our skills and passions we can eliminate those activities that drain our energy or distract our focus.

Instead, we are able to dive deeper within the realm of our interest and become more genuine, better leaders in the process.

Second, while creating a leadership niche enables us to maintain clarity about how we should spend our time it also provides clarity to others about what we do.

Our direct reports understand our role and know our strengths; current and future boards understand our focus and scope; and talent specialists know when to call us. Focusing on a niche allows us to market ourselves within and outside of our organizations easily and successfully.

With a singular focus on the thing we love to do and do best, it is a lot easier for us to excel as leaders. We can deepen our skill set, lead more authentically, become and convey more confidence and competence and in general, strengthen our position as leaders.

Yet, understanding why we should create a leadership niche is just the first step. In part two of this series, we will explore three simple steps to take to create your niche.