Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: You’re Not a Thought Leader, a Competitive Reputation, and the Link to LinkedIn

Filed Under Innovation

Arwen Heredia

March 13, 2014

In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we examine the confusing relationship between between thought leadership efforts and the C-Suite, Canada’s TL drought, and leveraging LinkedIn to grow your personal brand.

Think You’re a Thought Leader? You’re Probably Wrong

From Financial Post:

“What Canadian businesses desperately need right now are a few business leaders who are willing to seize the conch, demonstrate leadership, and challenge government and industry alike in a public and personal way. Instead, Canadian leaders are notably absent from the international stage. January’s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos is a perfect example. Of the more than 2,500 participants, only 36 are listed as coming from Canada. Just eight speakers for the summit are listed as Canadian, and not a single one was representing a Canadian-based business.

That means Canadian CEOs were almost completely absent at one of the most significant platforms for thought leadership in the world. Of course, to get a spot at Davos, people need to believe that you have something to say…Executives often dismiss thought leadership as yet another demand on their time that offers no quantitative return on investment. It’s all well and good to produce fantastic financial results, but that’s just table stakes in today’s world of hyper consumer cynicism.”

Our take: While we can’t necessarily speak for Canada, this piece demonstrates an important lesson that all businesses and leaders should pay attention to — if you’re not working at building your brand and network, you will be left behind.

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The Truth About Thought Leadership

From The Holmes Report:

[Thought leadership] can be confusingly referred to as a ‘style’ of leadership. This typically translates into a notion that because the CEO has done something ‘radical’ such as hosting a webinar, or introducing an open-plan seating arrangement, he or she is a thought leader. This confuses stylistic tactics for substantive leadership…Thought leadership is most commonly referred to as a ‘piece’ of something — typically market research. Think of a survey of ‘opinion leaders’, on the topic du jour. Often coupled with an unremarkable analysis of the results, rather than genuine insights.

All three fallacies labour under a misapprehension, that they ‘lead’. In truth they rarely articulate and advance a leadership position; they do not change the attitudes or behaviours of stakeholders; and, as a result they do not create or set an agenda that others follow.”

Our take: In general, people are becoming increasingly wary of buzzwords, and with TL the term du jour, the concept is bound to be exponentially under scrutiny. When we seek to develop thought leaders or content that bears the label, it’s key that we remember that it’s not enough to just have an opinion on something. True thought leadership requires research, analysis of the subject, and the passion and ability to shed new light on the chosen topic.

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The Link Between Thought Leadership and LinkedIn

From SmallBizTrends:

“The topic of thought leadership has been hot and heavy over the last year or two. Often discussed, speculated about and outright claimed by some, it is among the more misunderstood business concepts.
Many seem to think if they know something about anything, they can claim the “thought leader” position in a niche. Wrong.

You can be very knowledgeable about a subject, live in your mother’s basement with Dr Pepper and Cheez-Its and perhaps be a subject matter expert, but you are not a thought leader. Thought leadership is not claimed. It is an acknowledgement from a niche community, usually afforded to a very small top tier of people in a given niche or category.”

Our take: Another important look at what differentiates valuable thought leadership content from a cheap, repurposed opinion on a topic. This article discusses the issue in the context of gaining acknowledgement from consumers, readers, and industry enthusiasts — a key milestone for people who want to be globally recognized as true thought leaders.

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