Thought leadership is about driving forward development of the industry, being the sought-after expert and enhancing your company’s brand in a specific area. As a thought leader, your ambitions are to do more than just participate in the debate.
1. Use business goals as your point of departure
Ensure that your thought leadership has a clear connection to your business activities. If this specific area is business-critical, you will find it easier to get the entire organisation on board.
2. Limit your scope
Limit your thought leadership to a single area where you are naturally perceived as experts. The more tangibly and specifically you define that area, the easier it will be for you to assume the role of thought leader.
3. Contribute to society
Base your thought leadership on an ambition to contribute to positive social development. Always start by considering the public interest when formulating messages about change.
4. Draw up proposals
Present specific proposals that drive forward development in your area. Be clear about what the problem is, what you want someone to do about it, and how you will contribute to the solution yourselves.
5. Give away knowledge
Offer practical, useful knowledge to your customers, industry colleagues and decision makers in a way that is easily accessible. Use formats such as top tips, reports, social media, websites, op-eds and pamphlets.
6. Get your organisation on side
Work continuously to embed your thought leadership internally in your organisation among your colleagues and managers. The whole company needs to live up to high customer expectations in your area.
7. Get involved in the debate
Make clear contributions to the debate and be prepared for reactions from your opponents. Consider criticism an opportunity to get your message across one more time.
8. Prioritise one message
Pick one single message that summarises what you want to achieve through your thought leadership. Repeat this main message frequently and use it as the common thread throughout all your communications.
9. High-profile spokespeople
Appoint key individuals from among your colleagues to serve as high-profile experts and spokespeople. Draw up action plans that help them to work proactively and promote your message.
10. Set a specific goal
Formulate a clear three-year goal that can guide your thought leadership. Help to ensure focus and perseverance by surveying colleagues’ assessment of your progress on an annual basis.