Leadership Pro Tip: Find Your Thought Leadership Comfort Zone

The hard part about generating thought leadership content is committing to it and devoting the time it takes to do it right. But leaning hard into your comfort zone might help you speak up.

Leadership isn’t necessarily what you’re doing strategically but how you’re influencing a broader sphere—perhaps within your industry, but also among your colleagues and peers.

Thought leadership is one way to do just that, but it can feel nerve-wracking to put yourself out there in a public medium. One way to make things easier? Lean into a platform you’re already comfortable with—and make it your organization’s vessel for thought leadership.

What’s the Strategy?

A lot of this is on you as a leader to decide. But ultimately, building a content strategy that highlights the way you think could prove a great way to share a message. And when you flex that strategy on a platform that already has your personal stamp, all that’s left to do is to find your thought leadership voice.

That voice could look like a lot of things. Maybe it means posting on social media more, as high-profile business figures such as Richard Branson (and, regrettably, Elon Musk) do; perhaps it’s contributing to a content site driven by other leaders writing for it, along the lines of Forbes; perhaps it’s a podcast. Ultimately, it should create ample opportunities for your organization to tell its story in a more casual, approachable way than, say, a press release.

Why Is It Effective?

For one thing, platform-specific thought leadership content creates an opportunity to set a broader discussion on topics you think the sector should be having while helping build trust in your organization at large.

It could offer potential business benefits as well: Edelman’s 2020 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study found that 59 percent of decision makers said an organization’s thought leadership could be an effective way to assess an organization’s value when considering a business deal.

Just be mindful that any thought leadership effort you start needs to be built for the long haul. The Edelman study also found that organizations that have been doing it for a while are far more likely to report that it’s an effective way to get your message into the world.

What’s the Potential?

Of course, merely leaning into forums in which you’re comfortable might limit your potential in the thought leadership game, but there are ways around that. Bill Sherman, the chief operating officer of Thought Leadership Leverage, suggests going for a dual approach:

The stuff that’s new you’re going to feel less comfortable with because you’re still thinking about it. The stuff that you’re very familiar with, that’s old hat. What I’d recommend is choose a modality where you’re comfortable if you’re working on new ideas. And then, for the stuff that you’re experienced delivering, you can use a modality which might feel a little bit more of a stretch for you.

By experimenting with new ways to present your thought leadership, you might get better at it over time.


(Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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