What Thought Leadership Is Not

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Thought leadership has become the new catch phrase for individuals and companies looking to become the trendsetter and go-to for new ideas and new directions in the industry. While many wish to be considered a thought leader, there are many misconceptions as to what this means.

It is not about being cool. Some brands are “cool,” and consumers have to have them. Despite the product being cool, this does not necessarily translate to being considered a thought leader automatically. To attain this status, true thought leaders have to put in a lot of work to receive respect in publications and the industry. Becoming a thought leader means producing content and fresh ideas to multiple publications to the point that readers expect to hear about ideas.

Where you are published versus what you say. It can be exciting to publish in the industry-leading publications but of more concern is the content. Content needs to focus on the publication’s audience, but it must bring true value to the reader and the publication. The reader must leave the interaction having learned something of relevance.

It is not about garnering value by reaching the masses. Everyone wants to have a massive audience, hanging on their every word. What many fail to realize is that a large audience takes time and quality content. The goal is to bring value, provide information, garner trust, and credibility. With this, the audience will come.

Content, content, content. Everyone who generates content will hear “content is king.” The statement may be true, but it is an oversimplification. Content must be high-quality and truthful, and it must bring value. How you present the content is critical. Once presented, there must be a plan to maximize its potential. Great content can often be leveraged in multiple areas. Content can be used in blogs, marketing blasts, brochures, etc. 

Avoiding becoming a thought leader. Many aspire to become a thought leader, while others become so unintentionally. With high-quality content and strong placement, thought leaders emerge. Sharing success stories built from previous failure can rapidly garner the title of a thought leader as followers learn the openness, honesty, and humanity of the leader. By showing the human side, consumers can emotionally connect to the company and its brand

Thought leader status is a lofty goal that can be obtained, but often leaders must get out of their own way if they wish to succeed.