Thought Leadership: Does anyone really care?

Adapted from the November edition of Recruiter imPRint magazine – download for free here.

by Vicki Eastman

They should.

To quote The Handmaid’s Tale: “Ordinary is what you are you used to.”

Thought leadership is the antithesis to that way of thinking; it is challenging the status quo. It’s taking the ordinary and asking if things should be that way, if things wouldn’t be better if they were different.

Thought leadership is the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. It’s Women’s Suffrage. It’s ‘We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Over It’.

So, people should care. Thought leadership can change the world, creating new ways of thinking and forever imprinting the ‘thought leaders’ into the history books.

In everyday life, thought leadership has given us personal computing, vaccinations and social media. Nearly 50 years ago, thought leadership put a man on the moon and today we edge closer to ordinary (albeit, rich) people being able to journey into space. It’s been crucial for the evolution of almost every industry, and naturally those in the business world will have their ear to the ground, waiting to hear how the next piece of lateral thinking will evoke change.

The term “thought leadership” has lost some of its credence, as these things are wont to do, as exec after exec has clamoured to get a piece of the action, diluting the interesting and inspiring new thinking with recycled ideas and poorly concealed adverts for their own businesses.

With all of this oversaturation, it can be difficult to be heard and recognised as a persuasive thought leader. The best ideas, however, will always find a way of rising to the top, especially if you know how to best position your thoughts.

Successful thought leaders carry a certain weight of influence, and that is becoming increasingly important in the world of business. 79 per cent of marketing specialists in B2B roles rated social media as the most effective marketing channel, and social media works best for businesses who create a core following of people who are likely to need their services. Thought leadership has a huge role to play in attracting the right demographic and creating a circle of influence.

It’s long been established that we buy things after receiving recommendations from people we admire and trust, so it should be no surprise that influencer marketing has become so popular. The term can conjure images of celebrities or reality stars flogging whatever they’ve been asked to, but in reality, each sector has its own influencers.

Recruitment has Katrina Collier, tech has BeginnersTech, finance has Martin Lewis.   Each has become recognised as a person to follow because of their unique approaches to set notions. Through thought leadership, they have each created an aura of expertise, meaning their opinions hold more authority.

The key, then, is the pairing of the words ‘thought’ and ‘leadership’. Refreshing and different takes on ideas are what’s needed, but these must be projected to a receptive audience, by someone who is equally inspiring as the original thinking. In the sphere of influence, content rules – but a ruler is nothing without her followers.

So, does anyone really care about thought leadership? You’d be a fool not to.