Our team has a running joke about what it takes to be a thought leader. We say, “Step one: Have thoughts.”
You’re rolling your eyes, I know. Obviously, you need thoughts. This joke is only funny to us as beleaguered agency people. It reflects years of getting requests for help from people who think thought leadership is transactional. “Hey, marketing agency, make me a thought leader!” “Hey, writer, I want to order up a whole bunch of thought-leadership articles.” Or, my favorite, the C-level leader who responded to my simple question about the state of her industry with the honest question: “I don’t know. What would a thought leader say?”
But all snark aside, having thoughts isn’t a problem for most people I encounter. In my experience, the element of thought leadership that’s hardest to crack is the leadership part.
And the leadership part is an essential part of your thought leadership strategy. You can only really be a thought leader if you’re prepared to prioritize perspective, take a stand and keep showing up.