Thought Leadership: The Real Deal


Thought Leadership is a pretty well-used phrase these days and I fear its true meaning may be getting a little lost. Content alone does not equal thought leadership and many businesses would do well to remind themselves of what makes their content genuinely thought-leading.

I’m a big believer in the power of well-conceived and brilliantly orchestrated thought leadership. For the corporate world especially, it’s an excellent way of sharing collective wisdom, making superstars of their subject matter experts, and wrapping value and credibility around their brands.

But it’s no easy task. For an organisation to maintain a coherent message and gather momentum in the thought leadership stakes, they need a plan. What they want to say, when, by whom and how. And that should, of course, reflect the genuine wants, needs and interests of their target audience.

That’s not to say organisations should play lip-service: thought leadership should inform but also provoke and encourage debate. It’s fine to ask questions, even if you can’t give a definitive answer to them yet – the potential for dialogue is key. Great thought leadership inspires, generates ideas and develops a concept further.

What’s the difference? Thought Leadership v. Content

Thought Leadership IS:

  • A blend of knowledge, wisdom, ideas and interpretation
  • A different take on a subject – suggests new perspectives
  • An invitation for discussion
  • Attached to a person or people – it’s a human activity, not a ‘corporate’ one
  • Being curious, thought provoking and considered
  • Accessible, agile and current

Thought Leadership IS NOT:

  • …necessarily directed from the top
  • Unsynthesised facts and figures
  • A one-way street: it’s a basis for discussion and sharing
  • A sales pitch, disguised thinly or otherwise

I hope that the above might serve as a useful checklist for thought leadership development.  But that’s just the start.  Once you’ve got something thought-leading to say, make sure you say it!

Make the most of the channels available – thought leadership can and does exist on micro-blogging platforms as well as on the speaker podium and in print. Share the best of your thought-leading ideas with your clients by bringing them together in a roundtable debate. Integrate it in your media relations planning. Make sure you have passionate and articulate thought leaders ready and willing to enter into the debate.

Take your wisdom to a new level by applying about some thought leadership rigour – the business world will be a richer place for it.

Related link: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=111853

Kate Spiers is founder and director of Wisdom London.  (And a thought leadership freak.)

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Thought Leadership: The Real Deal”

  1. I love your line “Great thought leadership inspires, generates ideas and develops a concept further.” Very true. The key is to adequately describe the “concept” and ensure that solving it would solve a key problem in the industry.

    By the way, your light blue font is very hard to read. Mark

  2. Great delineation of thought leadership and content. Yesterday’s monologue is today’s dialogue. Yesterday’s brand control is today’s audience control. Yesterday’s repeated message is today’s adapted message. It looks like a new day! And today’s thought leaders will be tomorrow’s market leaders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: