I had a big ole’ blog written about “thought leadership.”
The ideas were flowing. The words were falling into place. Great feelings all around.
But then things happened. I got busy. My deadline was way out, so I thought, “I’ll come back to this.” And when I did (a few weeks later), I was less impressed. It was a long blog. It circled back on the same points repeatedly and got well into the weeds. I'd written a blog that wanted to be a great thought leadership piece about thought leadership, and you could tell. But wanting to be something is not the same as being it.
So how do you bridge that gap?
You keep it simple.
You’re already a thought leader (on the inside)
And it’s what’s on the inside that counts. In writing this, I was thinking of that scene in Kubrick’s Spartacus where Lawrence Olivier’s character is demanding that they identify Spartacus and one by one, each man stands and says, “I’m Spartacus!” The situation here isn’t as dire as it is in the film, obviously, but the point is that instead of looking around for the thought leaders, you should feel empowered to stand up and say, “I’m a thought leader!”... because you are (in one way or another).
Thought leadership is just creating and sharing content of value on a subject you’re an expert in. You’re an expert in something, so half the work (the most challenging part) is done.
It might not be what you think. Maybe you’re the owner of an automotive shop. Are you an expert in fixing cars? Maybe. But perhaps you’re an expert in some specific aspect of business ownership like creating a great company culture, or maybe you’re an expert in something that isn’t business-related like parenting (is anyone?).
The point is, regardless of what you’re an expert in, even if it doesn’t match your job title, you have something of value to bring to the conversation, and when it’s related to your industry and provides something of value to potential clients, even better.
So practice your thought leadership
The other part of being a thought leader is… well… just being one.
Share your expertise. You probably do it in conversation. People probably ask you questions about something, and you have just the right answer. But imagine how many people have the same (or similar) questions.
By sharing your expertise with a wide audience, you’re helping a lot more people and building trust. You’re not trying to sell something. You’re reaching out and saying, “Hey, I know where you’re at. Let me help you move forward.”
If people know they can come to you for answers, they’ll come to you for a lot more.
Oh, and keep it simple
You could write a 2000-word blog explaining the intricacies of the topic you’re covering, OR you could keep it simple. I recommend keeping it simple. Not everything has to be a white paper or an infographic, though they do have their place. Tell a story, and answer the pressing questions. Sometimes those questions might be complex, but that doesn’t mean the answer must be.
As Einstein once said, “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”
Or, said more simply, “keep things as simple as possible.”
See? Simple is better.
Now go forth and share your knowledge.
Happy new year.