Why should companies invest in thought leadership? And just what does thought leadership mean anyways?
These and other questions were debated during a Twitter #B2Bchat on Thought Leadership in B2B Marketing on October 13, and I had the privilege of moderating the discussion.
Here are the key takeaways I took from the discussion.
Thought Leadership Starts with Individuals
Individuals drive thought leadership, and many in the discussion posit companies cannot truly be thought leaders, only their people.
Notably, when people shared their own marketing thought leaders at the end of the discussion, there were no companies mentioned. It is easy to look to other spaces and see companies as thought leaders, but it was notable that when the group looked within the space they know best, where they are most likely to recognize true differentiated thought leadership, all the thought leaders identified were individuals.
Thought Leadership is Earned and Bestowed
Individuals (or companies) cannot simply claim thought leadership. They must earn it and it must be recognized by the audience.
Although this statement is (hopefully) obvious, actually earning thought leadership isn’t trivial. You must carefully consider who in your organization has the experience, insight and communication skills to broadly earn recognition as a thought leader and invest the time required to earn that recognition.
Thought Leadership is Not About You
Self-serving perspectives are not thought leadership. Taking this position a step further, Jeff Wilson (@jeffthesensei) said “Thought leaders are often heretics. Prime example is Galileo.”
Heretics have positions that are beyond the leading edge and the wisdom of their position or view is only seen over time. For individuals or companies, being labeled a heretic is about as far from self-serving as you can be.
Below are highlights from the discussion, also available here on Storify.
Join the Discussion
Can companies by thoughts leaders? What are the barriers to establishing thought leadership today? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).