What does it mean to be a thought leader?
Is thought leadership important? Firstly, let’s define the terminology. A thought leader is an expert in their field and someone who is not afraid to voice their opinion. They are trustworthy professionals, and are great sources of innovation to inspire others, and to turn ideas into reality.
Thought leaders have a critical role to play in a company. They can recognise great ideas, and know how to duplicate their success. The process of choosing one individual to represent your brand as a thought leader is not an easy task. The decision can be harder if your team comprises of several talented and smart people. Companies may prefer to delay choosing a thought leader for fear of making the wrong decision. However, this can delay the real returns that you can get from good thought leadership. A thought leader can increase the credibility and industry influence of your company, and it is an excellent strategy for improved sales, lead generation, and thus, company growth.
However, you cannot get these benefits unless you choose the right thought leader. Knowing the attributes of a thought leader will help you to make the right decision.
The Top Qualities of a Thought Leader
You need to look for three qualities in a successful thought leader for your organization. These include;
Industry Knowledge and Unique Insight
The best thought leader should have a unique insight and a wealth of knowledge in your industry. You need someone who understands your brand, and has a vision for the future that will ensure you are at the forefront of the market in years to come. Thought leadership is a long-term strategy, and the person needs to be able to consistently come up with innovative ideas, and to evolve the brand strategy.
Go for a person who has a unique insight and experience. If this professional stays up to date with the industry trends, they will keep your content fresh at all times. These are important qualities you should remember when looking for a thought leader for your brand.
Thought Leaders are the Best Storytellers
A good thought leader should know how to share information with other people in a compelling manner. Information is meaningless if it is not shared effectively to a brand’s team so they can manage change. Therefore, you need to look for a person who has excellent communication skills.
Some leaders have a lot of knowledge but they cannot share their knowledge effectively. This is a real drawback for any leader, as their message will not be heard, and team members will not be inspired to help implement a strategy. The best storytellers always have a compelling voice, and know the best way to communicate with their target audience. It is so important to be able to grab the attention of the listeners, and to be able to engage with them.
The Best Thought Leaders Know the Value of Content
What is thought leadership in marketing? A thought leader knows the importance of marketing and will be a collaborative, strong, and a highly competent partner in the process of content management. These people understand the importance of their role in the organization as they work towards attaining the right goals for an organization.
These above attributes are essential pre-requisites when choosing the right thought leader for your organization. Let us look at some other tips that will help you, and your candidates, make the right decision.
Top 5 Tips when choosing the Right Thought Leader for Your Organization
Don’t Look at the Titles
Some members of the senior management make outstanding thought leaders. However, this is not always the case. Therefore, you don’t need to choose someone from upper management, for example a CEO, as the thought leader for your brand. The role focuses more on the attributes of the individual and not their title.
Sometimes a junior employee in your organization, could make the best thought leader, especially if your brand is targeting the youth culture. You need to forget about titles when choosing a thought leader. Focus on the above three attributes outlined instead.
Look for the Natural Teacher in the Team
A thought leader is not ego driven, but a vehicle of educating his colleagues and advancing the conversations that take place. Therefore, look for the natural teacher in the team if your goal is to educate.
You need a patient individual who values the growth of his team. He should be willing to teach and explain ideas to the other team members in a way that they understand.
Communicate their Involvements’ Benefits in an Understandable Way
Clients always want to know what is in store for them before they can work with you. Your thought leader will also want you to answer this question before they consider taking the role. How will this strategy benefit your company and their own brand?
You know the importance of thought leadership and why you need one. Feel free to tell them how their engagement will benefit your company. Be keen to personalize this communication to all the people to help them know how thought leadership will benefit all the team members.
Think of Their Schedule and Ability to Prioritize
The fact that the professional that you identified has a busy schedule does not disqualify her from being a thought leader. Most successful thought leaders will have so much on their plates. Remember you need someone who has so much to share, has a lot of experience in their field and loves working with teams.
If you are choosing a freelance thought leader, select an individual who is willing to prioritize the responsibility that you have given, and is a professional who will appreciate their role in the success of your company.
Test the Potential Thought Leaders
Once you have a shortlist, you can look for the best way of narrowing your options. The best way forward could be giving the thought leaders the opportunity to shine on your company blog.
Brief the prospective thought leaders to create a blog post together that needs an example, story, or quote from the candidates, and include the contributions of these professionals in the content of your company.
There is no risk because you are in full control. It allows you to see how each thought leader will work and collaborate with content. It will help you to get the easiest person to work with your company. Look for the one who provides the best insights.
You can then review the positive and negative attributes in each person. Apart from these personal interactions, look at the performance of the content itself. Answering these questions will help you select the right thought leader for your company.
One of the most important decisions that a company can make is to invest in thought leadership. The success will depend on the individual you choose as a thought leader. You need to look for a natural leader, storyteller, expert, and industry maven, among other valuable attributes.
The best candidate should be able to share ideas with the other team members. Hope this guide will help you make the right decision when choosing the best thought leader for your brand.