Our clients often come to us with the goal of “developing a thought leader.” This request is in a lot of agency scopes. And there’s a good reason for that — thought leadership is an essential component of an integrated communications strategy. When done well, it can transform a brand and position a person as the “go to expert” on a topic. But developing a thought leader requires a strategic and intentional approach, and far too often not enough actual thought goes into creating a thought leader. Before determining who to develop as a thought leader within your organization, here are the top five qualities to look for:
Expertise. It’s a common assumption that a high volume of Twitter followers means you’re a thought leader. This is why the phrase can be viewed by skeptics as little more than a marketing buzzword. True thought leaders are experts in their field and use their knowledge to offer guidance. They aren’t spokespersons reciting talking points or into self-promotion.
Inclusive. Great thought leaders aren’t limited to their own ideas. They share their vision and then solicit input to include other perspectives and explore different ways to achieve their goals. They value creative problem solving as a group over personal validation.
Conviction. 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.
Disrupters. True thought leaders understand new ideas are the natural-born enemy of the way things are and they have no problem taking a hammer to the status quo. Thought leaders aren’t looking to be part of a conversation; they’re looking to transform the narrative.
Action Oriented. Disruption is meaningless without action. Thought leaders know this and are driven to act. They execute on their vision. Not only that, they encourage and inspire others to act.
If someone in your organization checks all of these boxes, perhaps it’s time to start developing them as a thought leader. KNB Communications can help create and implement a thoughtful plan to thought leadership.