What is Thought Leadership?

What is Thought Leadership?

Kayla Graham

Thought leadership is a term that’s tossed around freely in the corporate world. But what exactly is thought leadership? And how can you become a thought leader in today’s business environment where audiences expect authenticity?

Thought leaders are experts in their fields: they are industry pros that deeply understand the business they are in. And they share their knowledge with a broad audience. They also strive to improve their industry and add value to it.

A thought leader consistently offers skilled guidance and insight to their target audience. Thought leadership means you deliver the best answers to your clients’ most pressing questions. And you provide valuable solutions in the formats your audience likes to consume. For instance, if you’re trying to inform the 18-24-year-old demographic, there’s a good chance they use videos or image-based content. So, creating content on Instagram Stories, YouTube, or other image and video-based platforms would be one effective way to share your solutions and visions.


Who can be a thought leader?

A thought leader is an individual or business that is recognized as an authority in their industry. So, thought leadership can come from a variety of sources: executives, managers, customer service reps, salespeople, and more. Anyone with knowledge, experience, and a point-of-view can be a thought leader. Ultimately, though, thought leaders need to be able to inspire action in their audiences.


What are the benefits of thought leadership?

Through thought leadership, you can become part of the conversation in your industry. You can also become part of the customer’s journey from early on. And high-quality thought leadership content can lead directly to sales. A study by LinkedIn and Edelman showed that nearly 60% of business decision-makers said thought leadership led to them giving another company business. As well, it convinced them to buy a product or service they weren’t considering before.

Thought leadership:

  • Adds to your brand image
  • Lends credibility to your brand
  • Helps you shorten your sales cycle
  • Allows your audience to get to know you and your products and services

In the end, thought leadership is an outcome of a well-planned content strategy. Step back and think about what you are creating and why. It will help you produce meaningful content.


How do you become a thought leader?

You can’t become a thought leader after one blog or social post. To become a trusted source in any area, you need insight, knowledge, and a valuable perspective. It’s essential to build your experience to cultivate credibility.

To establish yourself as a thought leader:

  • Listen to your target clients to understand the issues that impact them
  • Focus on your clients’ problems—not just what you’re selling
  • Continually learn about your industry and stay on top of trends
  • Network and learn from others in your field
  • Produce in-depth research on your subject to prove you’re an expert
  • Be clear and consistent with your insights in your area of knowledge
  • Take part in events that show your audience you are a well-rounded professional
  • Express creative solutions and visions that inspire others


Applying these practices can help you provide the most valuable content for your audience.

Thought leadership isn’t just a corporate catchphrase. Insightful content can cut to the core of your clients’ problems. Thought leaders offer valuable answers and powerful, unique ideas that resonate with people. Being a thought leader shows you and your team are trusted experts that inspire and motivate people.