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Mary-Rose McLean on everything you need to know about thought leadership

Woman writing - Mary-Rose McLean

Thought Leadership goes beyond creating “star” brands or managers to ‘sell’ – it’s about  harnessing your talent, experience and passion with authority.

Did you know that 76% of executives say that thought leadership content influences their buying decisions, while another 83% say that this type of content influences their business , according to a survey by

Definition of leadership

Simply put, leadership is the art of motivating an individual, a team or a group to take action and work towards the achievement of a common objective. Thought leadership, though, is more than just that – it’s authority, marketing, credibility, passion and talent, all at once. It’s being in a position to have an opinion of worth that makes a powerful impact on people.

A thought leader is a person, or even a company, that is recognised as an authority in a specialised field. This could be a topic, a sector, a profession or something else. Thought leaders are those people who are often sought out and rewarded for their thoughts, opinions, insights, expertise and advice.

They’re the go-to people in their area of expertise. Think Tony Robbins, Richard Branson and more.

For many years, companies have focused their business strategies on the value they offer to consumers through their products and services. And for decades, we witnessed how brand communication only focused on the qualities of the product or service.

Today, in the digital age, companies put much more value on the experience and knowledge that a brand can offer to customers.

Thought leadership strategies are an increasingly popular way to communicate and interact with consumers. The more you help, the better you’re perceived by your audience as a leader. So, today, it’s about demonstrating experience and knowledge and offering strategic insights, answers, options, solutions or alternatives for their problems, tastes or needs.

A “star” beyond words

Thought leadership is about more than just “shining” and standing out from the crowd. It’s about being recognised and trusted as a reference and source of valuable information in your industry, in a way that positively impacts your audience.

For example, your experience and knowledge on the topic of “new IT trends” will not help you. But your ability to interpret and educate your audience about how new technology trends can benefit and help solve their business challenges is priceless!

A profitable business strategy

Thought leadership is a great asset. It improves the level of brand authority and drives business growth. It helps corporate leaders to lead and become part of the conversation, and the right strategy will help you to develop closer and profitable relationships with customers, prospects and other key audiences. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of making thought leadership a primary marketing strategy:

  • It gives your brand greater visibility, and nowadays potential customers are making business decisions based on the quality and visibility of brands.
  • You can conquer new markets, which is vital for business growth and profitability.
  • You become a “star” and leader within your industry by converting your brand or managers into authorities in their markets, industries and digital communication channels.
  • It improves your credibility, trust and reputation.
  • It engages your audiences.
  • You can monetise your innovative and experimental thinking by sharing it with your audiences.

Thought Leadership is the perfect weapon

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report , distrust in organisations is increasing in 2019 due to cyber threats, privacy violation, abuse of personal information, market dominance, unemployment, false news and the manipulation of processes.

Many leaders intuitively understand that being a trusted reliable organisation is beneficial. Trust is the basis of any successful relationship, whether it’s personal, professional or business. When the trust breaks, it is extremely difficult to repair it. As a tough rule in business, lack of trust negatively impacts brand loyalty and hits sales and profits.

Thought Leadership is a perfect weapon in the battle to establish, build and maintain trust.  And it’s an important means of building trust, transparency and collaboration to drive corporate growth.

Becoming a thought leader – proving you’re reliable and credible

Ask yourself: what makes you an expert, and why should other people care about what you have to say. Identify your area of ​​expertise and the value you bring. Then, demonstrate your experience to build credibility. For example, if you want to become a thought leader in marketing, think of ways to make it perceptible. You can tell a success story of a campaign you have developed, highlighting the result. Don’t forget to present evidence to support your arguments. You will connect with your audience if you share the challenges and your strategy in overcoming them.

In one of my professional leadership guides, I’ve discussed the importance of being an accountable leader. The universe of leadership leans on accountability, responsibility, ownership and credibility. That’s what keeps you in the game in the long-term. Getting started is easy, but maintaining your reputation can be a chaos if you’re careless. As long as you’re being true to yourself, your cause and your audience, you’re good.

And make sure that everything you do is high quality. Quality thought leadership content will not only help you maximise your visibility on the Internet, but it will also increase your credibility. Your insights can solve problems and address your audience’s needs.

Developing your presence in social networks is essential for Thought Leadership. However, being there is just half the work. With your expertise and knowledge, help your audience understand what they don’t know and offer them solutions. People will perceive you as an expert who knows and understands them – you’ll start to make crucial connections with your audiences.

Measure and monitor your success

Finally, it’s important to pay attention to how your thought leadership strategy is working. Find out if your audience is watching or reading. Analyse the number of clicks to your content, the amount of time people spend on your website, the new followers you’re getting, the interactions, such as comments and “likes” and the subscriptions to your newsletter.

These will help you get an idea of ​​your performance and help you to identify the things you need to adjust to improve.