The terminology may be new, but the concept has been around for a while. Companies have long built reputations for intelligence and innovation based on the strengths of individual leaders. That’s really what thought leadership is: knowing your strengths, using them to build success, and then sharing the process so others can learn from it.
That’s what it boils down to, but it’s not always easy to understand how it could benefit your business, or if it matters for your success at all.
Benefits of Thought Leadership
Thought leadership can increase your business’s reputation for expertise in a particular industry, area, or specialty. A stronger brand reputation can lead to more interested business partners, investors, and a higher capability of attracting great talent for your company.
There’s an aspect of customer attraction, as well. An increased brand reputation, a solid expertise, and well-known and respected leadership can help your business attract more customers. Be aware, however, that a business can’t be built for long-term success merely upon the reputation of one or two individuals. Your success in thought leadership can help your business, but only if you already have a good, strong business to help.
Best Businesses for Thought Leadership
So which types of business can benefit from establishing thought leadership? Really, any kind. If you lead a business-to-consumer company, establish thought leadership that will appeal to individual customers. Translate your business success lessons into practical tips for success that the average person can implement. Participate in community events, host workshops, and publish thought pieces that bring value to individuals, families, and communities.
If you lead a business-to-business company, your thought leadership can build your business network and make your company the top choice for your specialty. Look for trade journals, topical blogs, and industry organizations that will welcome your contributions. Your intelligence and insight can help your colleagues work better, establish your expertise in specific areas within your industry, and open up the doors for new partnerships.
Success Builds Thought Leadership
Remember that thought leadership is really about using your strengths to be a good leader and achieve success, then sharing that knowledge so others can benefit as well. If your plan for success is to become a thought leader and thus build a reputation that will float your business, you’re going to struggle. Thought leadership is build on success, not the other way around. It can certainly enhance your previous success, increase your brand reputation, and open up new opportunities for you; but it’s not the foundation of success.
Thought leadership is something you build on a solid foundation of previous success. Your success does not have to be monumental in order to be the basis for thought leadership. But without some success to study and share, you don’t have adequate material on which to base your thought leadership. So keep doing the stuff you’re doing, leading a great team, and making those small wins. As you go, pay attention to how you’re doing what you’re doing, and start writing it down and sharing it.
As you build thought leadership by sharing your insight, keep it balanced with doing. If you’re solving problems, finishing projects, trying new stuff, encouraging creativity, and leading successful teams, then you’ll have plenty of insight to share that will help other business leaders.