With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the entire leadership scene in 2022, certain speculations have popped up about 2023. Thought leadership has become a predominant trend with over $160 billion growth in the management consulting industry.
Last year, business models changed, and leaders began to use their thought leadership to meet challenges and demands. It was a unique way to create inclusion and harness the powers of unimaginable new mediums. It was also a good way to create content that drives value for high-performing teams.
“My business faced a complete shift in our objectives through my thought leadership. I encouraged my employees to exhibit the same style while addressing our clients. Our focus shifted from offering help to providing answers, clarity, and new perspectives for various issues. People appreciated being given the tools and direction rather than being spoonfed what to do,” said a team leader from a reputed agency in Chennai.
But when we consider the potential demands in 2023, thoughtful leadership seems more relevant than thought leadership. Let’s take a step back and differentiate between these two styles — what better way to determine which one will suit you best?
What is thought leadership?
When leaders begin to talk about the same goals, services, and products, it gets hard to distinguish between mass and class. What sets you apart and what can you do to amplify your influence on customers? What are you doing to reach your goal of improving team effectiveness worldwide?
It requires much more than just offering opinions and using your voice. This is where your thought leadership comes in. It is the timely delivery of genuine content that reflects your expertise and insights. You could be sharing an experience or providing a warning based on your mistakes.
You need to be authentic and share a common yet precise goal people can relate to. You are creating value that resonates with people and building knowledge to solve a mutual problem statement.
“I used to share inspirational quotes during events often. But it got me nowhere as they were not my own. Only when I began to narrate experiences and research-driven ideas with quotes at the end did I succeed. It is still the same quote, but I am adding how it connects to me. That makes all the difference while building your personal brand online,” said a content creator from Chennai.
How do I turn this into thoughtful leadership?
Thought leadership is much more than just preaching to a mass of people. It is more than educational content or an inspirational speech during a TED Talk.
It also involves collaborating with your team and motivating your peers using your expertise and knowledge. You need to have strong opinions to drive the team, but also an open mind to accept their values as well.
The thoughtful aspect comes in when you are intentional about what you are doing. You are transparent with your team and have a genuine desire to share your wisdom with the team. You crave mutual benefit for all parties involved by sharing skills and knowledge without restrictions. You intend to accelerate the process of improving team effectiveness and drive success.
“This thoughtful leadership will involve discussing industry trends and sharing ideas without holding back. Everyone involved shares their experiences and thoughts to come up with a unique solution that will benefit everyone. It is a mix of opinions mixed with research and hardcore data,” said a data analyst from a startup in Chennai.
Here’s how this helps
Dinesh is an entrepreneur who is part of a corporate community in Chennai. The community is focused on knowledge sharing and a group of entrepreneurs meets every week to discuss their experiences.
They are open about their experiences and share both the good and bad ones. When a person shares their good experiences, the others take notes so they can use the same in their business. But when a bad experience is shared by someone, the team’s response varies in several ways.
In some cases, if the issue is still unresolved, the whole team works to help the person solve it. They share similar stories from their lives and inspire or motivate each other to go on. In other cases, the whole team learns from the situation and suggests ways they can avoid it in the future.
“There was once a time when I shared a bad experience with the team. I mentioned how being a freelance strategist, I kept facing late payments or no payments from some clients. I sourced all of them from authentic websites and apps, but they kept ghosting me when it was payday,” said Dinesh.
The team listened to Dinesh’s story and maintained strained silence for some time. After a few minutes, a woman suggested that Dinesh should stop trusting apps and go for direct referrals. She had faced issues during cold calls as prospects who showed an interest in her products rejected her after a few days.
Her solution had been to use simple word-of-mouth referrals and choose clients that her contacts had recommended. This not only reduced the chances of the client ghosting her, but it also gave her team a chance to seek redressal from a mutual contact during issues. If the client delayed payments, she could always approach her contacts and put in a word to them.
Dinesh used this idea and began to source concrete contacts that lasted. They paid on time and even if they delayed payments, he could put pressure on them through his contacts. His fellow entrepreneur’s solution through her experience reached him at the perfect time and helped him grow his leads effectively.
What do we learn here?
Thoughtful leadership is about sharing timely aid as we noticed in the above story. It is about sharing ideas that may help without holding back. At times, your experience might not even be related to the issue, but you can just help your team by directing their thoughts elsewhere.
Dinesh’s colleague addressed his client’s payment issue with a lead generation issue of her own. The two incidents are far apart, but the simple solution bridged the gap for both parties. This will help your business grow and show your team that you support them. It will also encourage open communication and enable everyone to participate even if they have not faced the same experience as you.
Some other benefits include:
1. Better brand credibility
People will view you as an authentic brand with authority if you share solid opinions and original values. It establishes your brand profile and carves a good first impression if you have something original to say. People will start caring about what you have to say and will associate you as an expert in their niche.
2. Enhanced lead generation
Your content and thoughtful leadership will strengthen your sales pipeline and build a loyal community. Your audience will stick by you longer and you will attract clients that convert faster. People will trust your brand and connect with you on a deeper level than just your services. It is no longer just a business with a financial mindset both internally and externally.
3. You can provide customized solutions
Your team will have defined goals and will move towards a mutual target. Everyone knows what they are moving towards and what their role is to achieve it. You can identify what you wish to achieve and what difference you wish to make. This will help you position yourself as a thought leader who promotes those values.
The need of the hour is not just thought leadership but a thoughtful one. It is the art of staying mindful and being intentional about what you are doing. It will help you build a community of followers and not just customers or employees. The best part is how you are building your personal brand online while being your best self!.
To exercise enhanced thought leadership, try to be active on various online forums and communities. It will help you connect with other leaders and gain access to news resources and journals online. Attend webinars, conferences, and seminars where you can share your views without being too preachy.
Create articles and content using your thought leadership — maybe even shoot videos of yourself sharing your story and publish them on LinkedIn. Be a part of podcasts or even write an ebook with what you believe in. Your story could be the guiding light for a lost entrepreneur and help them solve or prevent issues using your experience.
If thoughtful leadership is your plan to strengthen your high-performing teams and audience base in 2023, click here to speak to our experts. We have just what you need to steer yourself toward success and make your voice heard!