The prescription for healthcare thought leadership
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For some, the term “thought leader” has become the B2B version of “influencer.” When you hear someone declare themselves one, an eyeroll or a soft groan aren’t an uncommon reaction. That kind of skepticism is largely due to how many “thought leaders” do it wrong, or at least poorly. (Consider readingthis agency blog for insights on effective thought leadership in the healthcare, health tech, and life sciences industries.)
All too often, hopeful thought leaders put on their sales and marketing hats and churn out content that ultimately promotes a company or product rather than showcasing their ideas to solve an issue in their industry. This kind of thinking doesn’t elevate expertise or build a meaningful following. It’s also a short-term play, and thought leadership is a long-term strategy.
Thought leadership and salesmanship do not live in the same space.
For healthcare thought leaders to be successful, they need to inspire others in the space. Their authority in the industry, perspective, and expertise are what’s motivational — not their ability to recite the key messages in their sales collateral. Genuine thought leaders — the ones who are sought after by journalists and asked to speak at high-profile events — step away from their business agenda and focus on challenges impacting the healthcare industry, then provide thoughtful guidance on how those challenges can be addressed and overcome.
Think of it this way — the term “thought leadership” should be interchangeable with “industry problem solver.”
Keep in mind too that being a thought leader doesn’t mean everyone will agree with what you have to say. In fact, if you’re doing it right, you should have a few hecklers. As noted in our firm’s previous blog linked above, “authentic thought leaders believe in their vision and are committed to seeing it come to fruition. They are willing to take a bold stance for the greater good, even when it makes others uncomfortable.”
In other words, thick skin is a job requirement. Expect there to be naysayers and people who disagree. If your goal is to play it safe, thought leadership probably isn’t the right path. But for those experts who are willing to be bold and share ideas that can break through the noise, being a thought leader will elevate your company’s reputation, foster trust and build rapport with your customers, and attract top talent — all of which will ultimately help grow your business.