What exactly is a thought leader? Surprisingly, it’s not just someone who is a well-known expert in their industry. A thought leader is a knowledge worker with a substantial influence outside of their organization who is treated as a resource. Helping different team members become thought leaders can positively impact your business, as 88% of decision-makers say thought leadership is an effective way to improve their perception of an organization.
Knowing how to create a thought leadership strategy is the first step in helping your team become thought leaders. We offer ideas.
Focus on one area of expertise
Ask each team member to commit to becoming a thought leader on a specific topic. Make sure there isn’t overlap—you don’t want too many experts in one area. On the same note, working to become a thought leader in too many areas can lead to burnout.
Focusing on a specific area of expertise helps build your brand and establish credibility.
Answer unanswered questions
What questions do people ask (within your area of expertise) that often go unanswered? What topics are rarely delved into for deep, meaningful conversation? People will begin to see your team as a group of thought leaders when they can provide answers to these questions. Remember, you want to start a conversation (not just supply information). Encourage your team to engage with followers for a meaningful discussion.
Appear on the right channels
Does your primary audience spend time on one or two social media channels? Do they read academic articles? Are podcasts their source for industry happenings? Determine which channels will help you become a strong authority—and then consistently show up on those channels. Think quality, not quantity.
Consider that 77% of survey respondents said a thought leader does not need a large social media following to be effective.
Leadership giveaways, like a monthly planner or desk calendar, along with a twist metal pen, can help budding thought leaders plan their contributions. Don’t forget about traditional news media—magazines, newspapers and TV can be powerful channels to spread your message.
Provide depth of ideas
Depth of ideas refers to placing your insights into processes and frameworks that teach other people how to be successful. In other words, you must come up with ways make your thoughts useful to others.
Take note of what other leaders in the industry are sharing and what processes they follow. Come up with ways your team can make those processes better and look for ways to provide unique insights and solutions. It may be helpful to have each team member choose one or two thought leaders to follow and share what they learned with the team.
Continue to listen and learn
A thought leader remains a thought leader through continuous learning. Mark Rogers, Psy.D., Founder and CEO of Insights Without Borders, says, “it’s important to admit what you don’t know and remain humble enough to listen to other people’s thoughts.”
That means keeping up with current events, industry changes, upcoming technology and other relevant fields your thought leaders may encounter. Support your team on their path to learning with leadership giveaways like a pair of wireless earbuds to listen to insightful podcasts or a USB drive so they can download learning materials and take them on the go.
Leading the way
Becoming a thought leader helps companies grow and retain more business.
By creating a thought leadership strategy and putting it to good use, you’ll grow a team of leaders in no time.
- Identify one area of expertise
- Answer unanswered questions
- Consistently show up
- Provide depth of ideas
- Keep on learning