Sue Hardman - Thought leadership is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit in marketing these days. Mostly everyone nods knowingly and yet every now and then someone stops me and asks:
“What exactly is thought leadership?”
Thought leadership is taking a unique position on a subject and sharing it.
That position and the information shared can be as extensive as a multi-part research series or as simple as the brilliant idea or perplexing question you have bubbling away in the back of your mind.
Both do the same job but at different depths. They provide the stimulus for someone to take the ideas and data and turn this insight into something meaningful for them in their world.
And that’s the key.
The best thought leadership happens when thought becomes action.
Thought leadership is not about just filling a screen with blogs or pages of a newspaper with op-eds or seminar programs with presentations, but being unique, inspiring or new enough to trigger that magical transfer to someone else. Where they bring that idea into their business or team and use it to make progress on whatever scale is meaningful to them.
We work with our clients to bring to life to all sorts of thought leadership subject matter across our industrial and agricultural industry specialties. We do this in blogs and videos, speeches and social media posts, white papers and case studies, ministerial briefings and media interviews, but the key element that is required for authenticity is a person – a thought leader – who can author and convey the message and continue the conversation.
So who can be a thought leader?
People think you need to be published or have CEO in your title to be a thought leader, yet I see thought leaders right through the organisations we work with. Young and old, male and female, technical and practical, degree-qualified and not. In a world where we have so many places to publish and present content, there are no barriers.
As managers and leaders our most important skill is to have our eyes open to these thought leaders in our teams and find a way to give them a voice. Provide the opportunities for people to discuss their ideas. To flesh them out. Try new things and fail sometimes. To be curious and work stuff out.
There is so much happening in your businesses that is of value to the industry and their input will help you refine your own thought leadership position.
So go out today and think about what thoughts you or your business have that could be leading. What would make good content to support what your business is all about both functionally and culturally. And if you need some help to hash this out, to work out what will resonate and make the cut as good content, give us a call.
P.S.: As I was writing this my 9 year old son Oliver asked what I was writing about. I told him that I was writing about what it took to be a thought leader. His answer: “Be thoughtful”.
That’s kind of brilliant really. Thoughtfulness is a different concept than just your intellectual thoughts. And it does take thoughtfulness to share your ideas with others in a way that will be truly helpful to them. Being authentic and real and open. It’s this quiet contemplation that will let you open to your own thoughts and critically assesses them and shake out the ones that will make your best thought leadership content – ‘cause it’s a crowded space.
Be curious, stay thoughtful.