Your position as a business leader may afford you exceptional insight. However, other C-level executives in your industry likely possess similar insights. To rise to the top of those in your industry, clambering to become the next prominent thought leader, you must challenge industry standards and inspire individuals to think differently.
Successful thought leadership can:
- Restore a brand’s image.
- Earn confidence and credibility.
- Bring to light subjects unaddressed by newsrooms.
- Increase your talent pool.
- Encourage more sales via your standing as an authority in your field.
With this in mind, how can you distinguish yourself as a recognised industry voice and leverage thought leadership as a business driver?
Craft your narrative
Thought leadership begins with constructing a narrative that connects with your audience. Start by defining the audience you wish to impact: investors, talent, prospects, etc. With high precision and focus, speak to your audience’s pain points. Your ability to bring a unique perspective will be essential to your success.
Finding something novel to share may prove to be challenging. If you concentrate your efforts on themes that you are genuinely passionate about, it will be easier to provide a fresh perspective. Avoid jumping on trends if they do not genuinely fit your narrative, as anything disingenuous will burn your brand.
Pre-determine your boundaries regarding what you will share with your audience, what you will not share, and how you will conduct yourself. For example, how will you respond to an audience member who shoots down your ideation? As the leader of your brand, it will be your task to craft the impression you wish to make.
You must incorporate the human element into your narrative. Whether through sharing a personal story, a relevant issue, or the names of individuals who have helped form you as a leader, an effective thought leader needs to make the audience feel like a member of their “inner circle.”
As you explore the subjects you would like to speak on, remember that your readers will seek value and a distinct perspective. You can share the lessons you have learned, the blunders that have altered your perspective, and the significant events that have helped you develop. As a thought leader, your ultimate objective is not to promote oneself but to contribute value to current dialogues, encourage involvement, and serve as a trusted resource.
How to find your voice
Your voice combines your experience and expertise, communicated through your tone, the words you select, and your delivery. You may be able to detect these characteristics in some of your favourite speakers. Still, you will need to study yourself to determine a voice you can leverage consistently in your thought leadership endeavours.
Examine your blogs and LinkedIn articles. Consider listening to recordings of yourself from public speaking engagements, podcasts, and workplace events. These will offer you an understanding of the rhythms and speech patterns you employ while presenting a narrative or encouraging your coworkers. Once you have recognised a portion of what makes your voice unique, hone that characteristic with practice.
Test and refine your narrative
You can commence testing your narrative through your blog or social media profiles. If you do not yet have a sizable following, consider joining existing relevant conversations. Add your commentary to relevant blog and LinkedIn posts within your area of expertise. Become accustomed to sharing your unique insights and monitor the feedback your comments receive. This exercise is simple to build your confidence as a thought leader.
Remember that it is okay if the audience disagrees; the presence of a vocal minority indicates that you have accomplished your goal, which was to prompt thinking and a deeper conversation.
Once you have found your feet, it is time to take your views to a wider audience through speaking engagements, contributing to relevant publications, and participating in podcasts. You may even go one step further and create your own podcast.
Listening is as critical as speaking to expand your audience; becoming a thought leader requires more than just sharing your thoughts. Deep knowledge of your area of focus will be essential to maintain high-level discourse. You must also remain up-to-date on relevant external factors, such as potential threats and opportunities that could drive change within your field.
Be consistent in building momentum
Once you have found your point of view, nailed down your voice, and expanded your audience, you will need to build consistency. Your audience will rely on hearing from you as they scroll on social media, check their inbox or listen to podcasts. It is better to start small and grow with consistency than to set unattainable goals across a dozen platforms and ghost your audience when you cannot keep pace.
Think about your bandwidth and the channels where your audience spends most of their time. Then give yourself attainable goals for the most important channels (personal socials, podcasts, blog, speaking opportunities or a newsletter). Establish a posting cadence, whether it is once a week or more. As you reach those goals, add a platform and adjust your cadence as needed.
Ready to become a thought leader?
Establishing yourself as a thought leader lends a human dimension to your organisation. It also allows you to be sought out more frequently for comments, enabling you to give your perspective on prominent topics and issues. Rather than attempting to mimic the actions of another thought leader, it is vital to embrace your unique views, voice, and perspective.
Please contact us if you want personalised guidance on becoming a thought leader in your field.