In simple words, showcasing expertise in a certain area through any medium of communication is Thought Leadership. This phrase is very loosely used, and associated word dropping is done during conversations in corporate corridors, with stakeholders and decision makers an individual or firm intends to influence.
For corporate professionals, thought leadership is showcasing their expertise in the line of business, technology, industry, sector, function and so on. The medium of showcasing is also many: Blogging, Whitepapers, Articles, Books, Speaking Engagements, Video, Audio, etc. the majority of the mid to senior leaders in the corporate sector are aware of this concept and its impact on their career. Yet, many do not take any action in this direction for some of the reasons like:
Am I really the authority on this subject? Well, if you are doing well in your field, chances are you are. A tech architect working in a narrow domain of software development using open source platforms, let’s say Property and Casualty insurance field, probably is one of the few professionals in the world knowledgeable about this subject. Confidence emerges naturally when you determine your niche, or micro niche.
2. Fear of Ridicule:
“People may not like what I write. I may fall short of expectations of some or many people.” This fear compounded with shaky confidence, sabotages this imitative right in the beginning and does not let a person start. Did you realise that many people who present scientific papers are also challenged? Some people will like what you are trying to convey and some people will not. At least the people who like your thoughts on a particular subject matter will tend to gravitate towards you and the people who do not, would probably come forward to debating with you. In any case, you are a winner. People who challenge you help you learn. Isn’t it? Isn’t learning a constant process?
“I am under so much pressure. I am already putting in 60 to 80 hours per week. Where is the time?” In fact, it works in the reverse way. In order to become a thought leader, you need to think through the area of expertise yourself. Chances are that you wish to showcase your thought leadership in your area of expertise; your work. The more you start thinking about, a series of clarifications will emerge, and new insights will happen. Maybe some of them will help you streamline some of your work challenges helping you gain efficiencies. This may result in a better work life balance. What about 4 hour work week? Ordinary efforts by ordinary people result in extraordinary results. Maybe you are the next celebrity in town.
4. Who will listen to me:
“I have been penning a blog for some time. But nobody seems to care and comment, ” said the CEO of a software company to me. Well! It just may take a little more time. Persistence coupled with a diversity of medium of communication will definitely help. Think about what medium of communication your target audience may be using. Research a little. The mediums are a plenty and diverse. Pick the ones that suit your style. Blogs, micro-blogging like Twitter, videos, audios like Sound Cloud, Conferences, printed and online magazines, industry-specific publications, social media and even Meet Ups. Through a little bit of trial and error you will very soon discover that a lot of people soon become your followers. It feels great to be noticed and recognized for the expertise. And it helps in getting better jobs sometimes.
A step by step workbook on strategizing and executing your thought leadership initiative is available upon request. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request your copy.