Be a Thought Leader

Be a Thought LeaderWe all hate buzz words, but this is a topic that has been on my mind lately.  I’ve had discussions with one of my colleagues about thought leadership.  Wikipedia simply describes thought leadership as an entity that is recognized for having innovative ideas.

Although the phrase was only coined in 1994, the concept has been around for a long time.

All organizations are trying to compete for market share, awareness and loyalty.  Mass marketing is dead. There is more noise than ever with the rise of social media.  How do we set us apart from our competitors? The answer: thought leadership.

Establishing yourself or your organization as a thought leader in a particular area takes time. It takes commitment and organizational buy-in.  Quite often it requires giving away ideas.  Giving away ideas helps the community build trust in you.  Seth Godin shares this great advice about sharing ideas:

Build a reputation as someone who creates great ideas, sometimes on demand. Or as someone who can manipulate or build on your ideas better than a copycat can. Or use your ideas to earn a permission asset so you can build a relationship with people who are interested. Focus on being the best tailor with the sharpest scissors, not the litigant who sues any tailor who deigns to use a pair of scissors.

Great Examples of Thought Leadership

  • General Electric has done a great job establishing themselves as a thought leader in environmental innovation with the Ecomagination initiative.
  • Obviously Seth Godin has done a tremendous job as establishing himself as a thought leader in the world of marketing.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk has built himself as a thought leader with regards to wine though his wine video blog,

Big or small you can work on establishing yourself as a thought leader today.  Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Identify the topic you want to focus on.
  2. Plan to establish yourself as a thought leader in your own backyard first, then expand.
  3. Give your ideas away in either a blog or video.
  4. Encourage participation to build a community.
  5. Subscribe and read to industry publications and blogs.

Who are the thought leaders you follow? Please share below.