Becoming A Thought Leader

Business success is not possible without competent and effective leadership, which helps not only organisations but also employees succeed. Effective leadership positively influences workers, improves productivity and strengthens workplace culture. There are many types of leadership styles, but here we will be focusing on thought leadership.

But what do we mean by thought leadership? According to Influence&CO, “a thought leader is an industry expert who shares his or her expertise with a broader audience for the purpose of educating, improving, and adding value to the industry as a whole.” Thought leaders have influence and authority in their chosen industry which engenders trust and means business opportunities come to them more easily.

Research by Edelman and LinkedIn suggests that being recognised as a thought leader can also drive growth with current customers, as “60% of decision-makers said thought leadership convinced them to buy a product or service they were not previously considering.”

But reaping the rewards of thought leadership requires being recognised as a thought leader, which requires work. First of all, build a strategic plan: define your best expertise, understand who your audience is, and what are the best channels to reach them. Crucially, establish goals that are attainable and measurable. Then, you can work on creating educational and useful content that effectively expresses your message, unique perspective and expertise to your target audience.

Build and work on an online platform (social media, website, blog…), create something that deserves the attention of your clients and workers. Remember that being online gives you access to a wider audience to spread your message and show knowledge. The Edelman and LinkedIn study found that “58% of respondents read one or more hours of thought leadership per week.” To win the attention of your potential audience, your posts must bring value. Keep the content genuine, natural, and true to the brand. In addition, make sure to diversify the channels you use. For instance, consider working on podcasts, giving online training, sharing advice on different platforms, etc.

When creating content, be aware that too much self-promotion can be harmful to your image. A 2018 Influence&CO report showed that “79% of editors said that one of the most common problems with guest posts is that the content is too promotional.” On top of that, if you want to be a thought leader, you must separate your professional profile from your personal one on social networks.

These leaders should encourage their workers/managers/executives to use online platforms, as this can help them grow, improve their thought leadership, and build their brand. Thought leadership is a marketing strategy that should be used by all of us.

But more than achieving thought leader status, it is vital to maintain it. These leaders must work continuously to strengthen their authority and draw the attention of their audience. Maintaining a presence as a thought leader helps companies and leaders improve credibility, stand out from competitors, and increase the visibility of the organisation’s culture and values. For these reasons thought leadership should be incorporated into the marketing strategy as a business imperative.

References:

  1. Here’s What You Need to Become a Genuine Thought Leader in Your Industry, July 2019, Entrepreneur.
  2. Is Thought Leadership Everything It’s Cracked Up To Be? November 2019, Forbes.
  3. 6 Steps for Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader, Influence&CO.
  4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE STATE OF DIGITAL MEDIA IN 2018, 2018, Influence&CO.
  5. 7 Surprising Stats About the Underappreciated Power of Thought Leadership, December 2018, LinkedIn.