“One of the most important things for any leader is to never let anyone else define who you are. And you define who you are. ” – Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM
Strong leadership is a critical component of successful organizations. Leaders must have the ability to execute on many levels in order to meet the needs of their customers, employees, partners, and other stakeholders. CEOs must also consciously build their credibility and by extension the credibility of their organizations in order to order to excel as a leader and as a company. Relationships with stakeholders relies on trust and stakeholders will make a decision on whether to work with you based on your expertise, the quality of your products/services and if they trust you. Your credibility and why someone should trust you and your organization relies on your history and deliberately defining who you are.
Although clarity of purpose and trust are critical success factors for themselves and their companies, many CEOs put little effort into defining who they are and why they are credible. Devoting strategic effort to Thought Leadership offers a path to drive this credibility. Edelman and LinkedIn perform an annual Thought Leadership survey that hits this point home. In this survey, 88% of decision maker respondents believed Thought Leadership can improve the perception of an organization, but only 17% surveyed believed the Thought Leadership provided was “good or excellent”. Often, when individuals do make a commitment to Thought Leadership, it is not of sufficient quality to meet the goal of promoting credibility.
When we talk to leaders about Thought Leadership, we get a variety of reasons on why they do not make an effort in this area. We hear:
- We’re too small to focus on this
- I’m just thinking about execution
- It takes too much time
- I don’t enjoy doing it
- Someone on my team can take care of it
- I need to hire a PR person to take care of that
Yes, it is a commitment of time and effort, but as we mentioned above, your customers and other stakeholders have an opinion of you. Your potential customers and partners may or may not have an opinion of you. If you don’t define who you are, someone else might. Not taking steps to influence that opinion is a conscious decision not to lead and forfeits a golden opportunity.
We recognize that saying you should do it does not mean you have the time or confidence in your ability to execute. In future posts we’ll talk about opportunities in this area. A few ways to get started are:
- Think about what you want to be known for. This will guide you on what you need to be telling the world (and hopefully inspire you to deliver knowledge!)
- Get familiar with channels to spread your Thought Leadership: LinkedIn is a great place to start. Many organizations use Medium and other online publications as well. The cost to share thoughts and your expertise is often not monetary.
- Add leverage to what you are already doing: If you do write something, speak at a conference, or hit a major milestone, share anything you learned, especially if it is small! LinkedIn makes it easy to Post on their platform.
- Video is easier than ever to make and consume. A short video creates a great opportunity for your stakeholders to get a sense of you.
- Explore platforms and specialist communities like Thinkers360 that can help curate and promote your thought leadership and advance your expertise. Thinkers360 has also launched a 2020 B2B Thought Leadership Outlook Survey.
In future posts, we’ll discuss these opportunities and others further.
A core value of Advantary is to Build and Nurture our network. We eagerly want to learn and are interested in what you have to say. Think about your approach to Thought Leadership and let us know what you are doing!
Matt Sitter is a Partner at Advantary, LLC and provides operations, strategy, and executive coaching services. Matt is passionate about team collaboration.
Prior to joining Advantary, Matt held leadership positions with the advisory firms CrossLead, Inc. and the McChrystal Group. Matt is an ICF credentialed executive coach, has led a wide variety of functional and cross-functional teams and served on multiple executive management teams. He received his BA from Brown University and MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth.
Andy Scott is a Partner at Advantary, LLC and is focused on Growth, Capital Markets, and IP Strategy engagements.
Before joining Advantary, Andy launched multiple high growth startups across various industries. Within the IP realm, Andy co-founded a leading patent strategy and brokerage firm, as well as was an early executive at RPX which went public three years after inception and built multiple businesses to help companies manage patent risks. Andy was named as one of the ‘Top 300 World’s Leading IP Strategists’ by IAM Magazine.