Time to up your thought leadership game?
More than a million people describe themselves as a “thought leader” in their LinkedIn profiles. That’s a lot of thinking, and leading! And it got us thinking, too – about why so many people claim that title, and what is a good thought leader anyway?
Senior executives in global organizations repeatedly tell pollsters that thought leadership helps direct their decision-making. Thought leadership content helps in vetting potential vendors, understanding best practices and making better informed decisions.
But what exactly makes a person a thought leader? And if you want to be a thought leader, how do you go about developing your stance and your voice?
Let’s take a look at four kinds of thought leaders, so you can decide where you or those in your company fall – followed by three sure-fire ways to spin up some unique thoughts.
Four types of thought leaders defined
Thought leaders come in all shapes, sizes and reach beyond the title of CEO. Anyone who creates content with substance (and skips the fluff) can be a thought leader. As such, here are four types:
- The Strategist provides guidance and has experience mastering a strategy or tactic. Think David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Tech Village, who knows the ins and outs of entrepreneurialism and is an investor and board member of several companies.
- The Evangelist is a brand ambassador who intimately knows the topic he or she writes and speaks about. Tiffani Bova, for example, has a lifetime of professional experience in the sales arena. As Salesforce’s Global Customer Growth and Innovation Specialist, she speaks, authors books and hosts podcasts about sales.
- The Subject Matter Expert has a deep, broad understanding of how a product or certain field works. Geni Whitehouse, self-proclaimed accounting nerd, for instance, makes boring subjects like accounting- and tech-related “nerdy stuff” relevant, interesting and meaningful. In fact, she’s devoted her career to it.
- The Visionary has a track record of being ahead of his or her times and is often looked upon as a left-field thinker with a uniquely wired brain. Think Elon Musk, co-founder and leader of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company. Who’d a thunk it? The visionary does.
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Three ways to develop a thought
Not to state the obvious, but to be a thought leader, you must have a thought or two. That’s easy for some, while others struggle to take a position and convey their voice. However, these suggestions can help you come up with, wrangle and distill those great ideas so you can share them with the world.
- Research rules: Conduct original research like surveys, which allows you to own original data and turn those insights and implications into thought leadership.
- Find your passion: Are you an entrepreneur with an innate ability to start a small business, sell it, and do it again? If so, you have a passion and a wealth of experience to dole out to other budding entrepreneurs. Or perhaps you’ve become an expert on sustainability and want to share your knowledge with customers and partners.
- Aggregate industry chatter: Talk with customers, read their social posts, understand their pain points. Through deep listening, become the aggregator of industry chatter. This could include voice of customer research where you bring together a focus group of customers or colleagues in your vertical, and develop the output into a deeper story that resonates.
Guess what? Arketi Group can help you find your thought leadership – the type of lane where you feel the most successful and comfortable. We can also help conduct research – including surveys, finding your passion and putting together a group that enables you to better understand the voice of your customers.
LinkedIn research shows that 56% of professionals say a business executive’s presence on social media positively influences their purchase decision, and 66% of professionals would be more likely to recommend a company or brand if they followed one of its executives on social media. So, if you think thought leadership isn’t important in the B2B world, perhaps it’s time to think again.
You know it. You love it. You’ve been there before – and have taken away lots of great information and networking from it. Or perhaps you haven’t attended a B2B Tech CMO Roundtable before, but your interest is piqued. Learn more about this amazingly awesome annual fall event by emailing Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.