Thought leadership has become more important to a company’s survival than ever with the proliferation of Internet-based interactions. At the executive level, thought leadership is crucial to establishing a company as an industry leader and the company’s command staff as people with new and innovative ideas. However, many CEOs ignore or disregard the importance of setting oneself up as a thought leader in a given industry, resulting in less public confidence and fewer contracts, hence lower earnings. Establishing your credentials as a thought leader is relatively simple, while failing to do so may cost your company millions of dollars.
Why To Establish Thought Leadership
Leaders think beyond the constraints of conventional wisdom to what is possible, not merely what is practical or likely. A company whose leadership demonstrates innovation and creative thinking while remaining solidly grounded in the realities of the modern business and industrial world inspires more confidence and a greater willingness on the part of clients to take a chance with a new or untested company. Because of this dynamic, setting yourself and your company apart as thought leaders increases the likelihood of obtaining new business while giving the impression you are always looking for ways to better serve your existing clientele.
How To Establish Thought Leadership By Showing And Telling
The preeminent rule of writing is to “show, don’t tell.” It isn’t enough to say you have a better process, plan or idea for executing whatever role your company fills. You also have to be able to deliver visible, tangible results and articulate those results in a way that makes them understandable to someone who isn’t an industry insider. Therefore, when speaking to your business, the rule can be modified to “show and tell.”
Thought leadership is very simple, at its heart. Perhaps you have noticed industry trends, for better or worse, that may impact your clients. Maybe you have a better, more streamlined or simpler way of achieving the same objective which saves time and money. You might even be interested in the legal aspects and ramifications of a given process or protocol.
Any of these are valid vectors from which to approach thought leadership. By noticing or implementing trends and changes, you are accomplishing the “showing” portion of the equation. When you comment on your actions or industry trends, you fulfill the “telling” portion. As other people read your comments and see the merit in your approach, you will attract more clientele and a better reputation as an authority on the cutting edge of your industry’s innovative curve. Perhaps even better still, you will find your competition starting to implement your ideas and processes in their own businesses.
Content And Thought Leadership
This may sound like giving away the farm for free, but it really isn’t. No one else can frame your thoughts the way you would, and only you can speak with your own authority on the issues that interest you. By creating content that engages and challenges the reader to think about how their own business paradigms or needs are being handled and met, you are placing yourself as an industry leader.
Depending on the type of business, your content may range from humorous and anecdotal to serious and straightforward. “Ten Reasons Everything You Know About Building Widgets Is Wrong!” is just as valid an approach as “Five Potential Legal Problems With The New Fill In The Blank.” Your approach should always reflect both your personality and the company image you wish to portray. In addition, it should instruct, entertain and engage the reader to think beyond the conventional wisdom and paradigms they know.
Some types of content do not lend themselves well to certain methods of authority commentary. Your analysis of a tragic mining accident is probably not the place for humor, gallows or otherwise. Likewise, a detailed consideration of how to build a better rubber chicken could be very bland without a few wisecracks or funny asides thrown in. It is imperative that you consider your target audience, such as other CEOs, the general public or your suppliers and contractors, when crafting your approach. In all cases, your content should help you build and refine your image as an authority on the topical matter.
Thought Leadership And “Buzz”
We touched lightly on this previously, but it bears expanding upon here. As you continue to build and refine your thought leadership image, it will inevitably generate discussion, debate and even controversy. This is an excellent outcome for an authority piece, because it will get people talking about your company. While a well-crafted authority article may take several hours to several weeks to get into pristine condition, weighing that time against the potential word of mouth advertising and interest you will generate makes the effort well worthwhile when considered on an ROI basis.