What is thought leadership? How Innovation and Insight Build Industries

What is thought leadership? How Innovation and Insight Build Industries

You can’t build a house without a solid foundation. The same sentiment applies when building a brand or a business. Without detailed insight into how brands thrive in a crowded market or how to create your own blue ocean, you’ll fail to deliver a lasting impact on your clients. Most brands fail to realize that having a stellar product is just the beginning of marketing. Any brand’s best branding tool is a thought leadership strategy that keeps them in the limelight. Just think about it. 

Oprah Winfrey

Gary Vee

Steve Jobs

These influential individuals have more in common than just being superstars in their industry. They are some of the most famous thought leaders that have pushed boundaries. They understood the need to carve out blue oceans with their hard work and dedication. As thought leaders distinguishing themselves with keen problem-solving abilities and a commitment to striving forward in the face of adversity, they stand above the rest. 

In a world where popularity is a thing of the past and trends change by the minute, thought leaders are fighting more than ever to stay present. 

Thought leadership is one’s ability to direct an entire industry with their insight and inventive approach to problem-solving. Thought leaders are the principal makers behind some of the most influential businesses and industries.

Top Five Thought Leaders

Apple

Berkshire Hathaway

Walmart 

Exxon Mobile

Amazon 

What makes these companies remain the top organizations in the business world? How do they share their ideas and build a community worth supporting? 

The answer lies in their thought leadership strategy. 

 But what does it mean to be a thought leader and to engage in thought leadership? How can we develop our expertise to a level of great servitude and engagement?

Many people have begun to call themselves thought leaders without sharing their insight or engaging with a larger community. They place their title on their LinkedIn account and other social media platforms to gain a more extensive following without adding anything.

They do not engage. 

They do not add value to the people around them. 

They bask in the glow of a title and nothing else. 

 Now don’t get us wrong; thought leadership is not a scam, though others can use it as one. Thought leadership is an act of serving and adding insight. It is not a simple tag that you add to your name to gain fame. It requires hard work and taking the risk to push boundaries and expand on what we thought possible.

 So that begs the question, what attributes define thought leadership?

 And how do we recognize valuable thought leaders in any industry?

 What defines thought leadership?

Here at WritnWell, thought leadership falls into three categories; organizational, industry, and product. Each type helps us summarize the different ways brands could apply thought leadership to the world around us. We took the time to break down each category and add our own spice to the pot. 

 We didn’t want to overcrowd you with definitions and complicated words, so we simplified all the information we could gather and added a few resources to help you expound your knowledge on what it means to be a thought leader

Thought leadership shows C-suites what it means to innovate.

What is organizational thought leadership?

Organizational thought leadership exists on a business level. It implies your organization’s ability to man an impact. Your dedication to becoming a top-of-mind brand revolves around building a strong company culture.

Apple employs organizational leadership with simplicity and design. Due to Apple being so good at what they do, they also stand out in both product and industry thought leadership. 

When Tim Cook became the head of Apple, he understood that to stand out and keep Apple as one of the leading companies in the world. They needed to innovate. Organizational thought leadership boils down to company culture, defines your employee experience, how you train your employees to become better at their jobs, and adds value to those around them.

 It is the dedication to making leaders out of those who are a part of your organization. Organizational thought leadership flows both ways in a company. It requires excellent foresight from the C-Suite and building each department and employee from the ground up. We understand that culture significantly impacts who wants to work for you and who quits within three months. 

It’s a no-brainer why companies focus so much on building a better work culture. While some companies choose to go fully remote, others employ a hybrid dynamic to offer the best of both worlds. Cultivating a sustainable work culture is more than giving mental health days. It requires scaling at a level that does not break the system. 

We often fall victim to gaining more customers and clients; we forget about the structure that holds it all together. If we fail to scale with a hand on the pulse of our industry, we fall short of being forgotten by time and innovation. It is not to say all hope is lost. No. One of the best parts of thinking about your thought leadership strategy is realizing your mistakes and moving forward. It pays to look inward when you grow while moving forward. 

No captain can sail a ship by themselves. It requires a trained crew with the capability to make tough decisions and sail through rough waters. 

 To develop a clear organizational thought leadership strategy, one must be willing to both listen and observe.

 It is not enough to give instructions and delegate tasks without micromanaging; organizational thought leadership includes trust and creativity. 

You must investigate how others build impenetrable work cultures. 

How do they get their employees and customers excited about their products? 

Who do they consult in times of need? 

And why do they share their faults and failures?

The best part of organizational thought leadership is the ability to share your discoveries and obstacles with others in your industry. Thought leadership, similarly to marketing, does not exist in a vacuum. It requires dedicated engagement and conversation with sharing ideas and insight. 

 Some of the best organizational thought leaders are more than willing to lead from a place of understanding. 

A human-centric design elevates each industry.

Insight into Industry Thought Leadership Strategy

 Industry thought leadership tends to focus on the individual or a single idea more than their cultural impact. For one’s company or individual to become a thought leader, they must focus on keeping pace with current trends or be willing to pioneer ahead. Industry thought leadership is more than just understanding your audience. It is a full comprehension of your industry, analyzing how to grow or recover from a loss, identifying cliffs or deadends, and creating opportunities for advancement and innovation. 

It sounds a bit stressful, and it can be if you decide to handle it by yourself. However, implementing industry thought leadership strategies require more than one person. You will need a team of people to help you highlight industry trends. The sheer quantity of data required from industry thought leaders is astounding. It is always a people-first policy. 

To be frank, thought leadership is always people first. With new ideas emerging each day, thought leadership has to be human-centric. It has to depend on your engagement and a practical approach to adding value. Whether we considered it or not, humans are the center of every industry and design. They push trends, facilitate design sprints, and shake our belief in what we thought possible. 

Industry thought leadership does not mean you lack organization thought leadership. No. It means you are scaling one level higher. 

Can your words affect an entire industry? Does your insight dictate how leaders are trained? Can you identify the variables that signify unprecedented change?

The best part of industry thought leadership lies with the abundance of diverse ideas. No two leaders are the same. Each will have their opinion of how to transform an industry. From tech to art, the possibilities are limitless.

Tips and tricks for improving your industry thought leadership.

If you want to start distinguishing yourself as an industry thought leader, here are a few ideas. 

  1. Clarify your area of expertise. Let your audience know what you can and can not do. There is no shame in knowing more about CMS than alt images.
  2. Share your ideas and how to make the business industry better. Maybe you have insight on how to cultivate better business habits, or you are gifted and helping managers and team leaders excel in their industry. 
  3. Listen to the feedback of others, what do they want to know more about. What areas of their business can you clarify or add insight?
  4. Rinse and repeat. Remember, we are all here to learn and grow.

 This category is a lot more flexible in its approach to sharing ideas and connecting with an audience. Remember to focus on helping others find their success and not solely on your accolades alone. Industry thought leadership has advanced in the last 100 years to include businesses in all stages of growth and individual growth. 

Product thought leadership has to become a lifestyle.

What is product thought leadership?

Product thought leadership is an active strategy to build anticipation and share new product ideas. Most product thought leaders understand the importance of marketing and engaging with a customer consistently. They are the face of their product; while using personal branding and product alignment to share strong core values and represent their company.

Wendy’s

Burger King

Apple

Nintendo

 Every year over a million products hit the market with upgrades and new features; it can be hard to stand out or even maintain a consistent customer base. This reason alone is why millions of companies use product leadership to showcase their product and services uniquely. 

With each new upgrade or feature, companies pour more money into their product thought leadership than they did 20 years ago. They understand using trailblazers and influencers to shift public opinion. They inspire. They create new rules on how we share our information. 

Companies create entire marketing teams to further their goal. They create catchy commercials. Learn the lines of the latest songs. It’s beautiful and calculated. Why?

Who will remember them in a year? What about ten years? The grand idea is to ingrain a product into society as a whole. A product is more than a one-use item or service. A product should be a lifestyle and have a brand strategy that supports it. Products thought leadership seeks to engage their audience on a mundane level and work upwards. 

 Samsung is one of the most engaging product thought leadership in the industry, along with Wendy’s. Samsung is innovative in its design and willing to try new concepts in its market. Wendy’s demonstration of social media mastery tactics to engage their audience and build a rapport that is hard to beat. Their witty banter and marketing campaigns have gained them the title of being an Undisputed Genius at Social Media Marketing.

How to become a thought leader?

With so many companies globally and growing, thought leaders are bound to appear and shake our belief in what we thought possible. But not everyone can become a thought leader. To become a thought leader, you need five basic principles. 

  1. Clarify your expertise. 
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Add value.
  4. Push the bounds.
  5. Listen to their feedback.

Thought leadership is born from conversation and obstacles. When we decide to think outside the box and share our insight, we add to the discussion. 

 What does it mean to be a thought leader? How can you redefine an industry, product, or organization by building rapport and being consistent in your message?

Thought leadership combines simple and complex ideas, but it requires consistency and attainable goals to be successful. 

Thought leadership is insight and innovation disguised as hard work and dedication.

What will your thought leadership show the world?

 Thought leadership is insight and innovation disguised as hard work and dedication. It is the ability to understand ideas outside the box and share them with others in a simple manner. It is not defined by the number of followers or nice words and motivation. 

To learn more about developing your thought leadership strategy, visit our service page.

Published by Joy Nibbs

I love food, writing, and community. Pretty simple right? Life should be simple and full of opportunities to grow and become a better person.

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