WHERE ARE YOUR THOUGHT-LEADERS?
Posted by Fabrick on 16 July 2018
I am a huge advocate of personal branding, perhaps to the point where I over-use the phrase a little bit too much (apologies for that). The thing is that I passionately believe that everyone has a unique point of view, a unique tone of voice and a unique set of thoughts that with a little focus can help you to both develop yourself and your career. Since really taking on board the idea of a personal brand I have found the term “thought-leadership” creep up beside it quite a lot.
As a concept, thought-leadership is an incredibly powerful strategy for businesses to embrace. It requires buy-in from a whole organisation and joins in articulating the ideas that come from fostering a culture of sharing, re-invention and innovation.
It’s also not easy. It is time consuming; it does require a solid thought process to sit behind it. I wanted to share with you the key points I would advise thinking about if you’re looking to build a thought-leadership program:
1) Not everyone is a thought-leader
Sorry folks, it’s just a fact. Some people just aren’t. That’s not to say they wouldn’t excel in other areas, but thought-leadership programs are designed to highlight the key players within a business. If you highlight them all with a blanket strategy, then no one will stand out. Finding that one, or finding a few to cultivate within a thought-leadership program, is step one in the process.
2) Thought-leaders should fuel your employee advocacy program
Personal brand building and employee advocacy programs can amplify and mirror your thought-leaders. There is also a self-perpetuating model at work here as many people say they would rather work for a social CEO. Employees thrive off understanding what makes their leaders tick, what drives their opinions and thinking. It can help create a culture where employee’s buy-in to the leadership and this in turn creates advocacy.
3) Diversity is key
Not every CEO is a born thought-leader, but then who said thought-leaders need to be sitting at the top of the company. Thought-leaders should be the ones who naturally have confidence in their opinions, but who are ready to evolve, disrupt and test their ideas to better the impact they’re having, whether that’s on the market, the business, the customers or the workplace.
Constructive and disruptive ideas can be found in all kinds of places. Arming everyone with the tools to be able to articulate those thoughts and assessing who is able to make an impact is where you can begin to find your true thought-leaders.
4) Commitment is key
Success will always require a long-term commitment from those involved. It needs to be supported by the wider business and this means it can’t sit with the responsibilities of the marketing department. There should be input and buy in across the whole business. I compare it to working out. If you join a gym by yourself you will rarely go, but if you sign up with a friend you motivate each other. When one starts to flag the other is there to help push them forward.
5) It means you have to genuinely be a pioneer
Thought-leadership is very much about changing the way things are done. It’s not about talking about it. It’s not about theorising about it either. It is like anything where you pioneer change; you have to actually facilitate that change. You have to aim to disrupt the way it’s always been and you have to keep doing that.
We all have thinkers within the business. Many will be already doing the above. As employers we can arm them with the tools to become leaders and I find that incredibly exciting. I think we are fortunate to be able to push these people to the forefront and we have an opportunity to break with tradition by making the faces of business the thought-leaders in it.
Laura Curtis, Fabrick