You Ask, I Answer: Great Thought Leadership?

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You Ask, I Answer: Great Thought Leadership?

Jerry asks, “What makes for really good thought leadership?”

You Ask, I Answer: Great Thought Leadership?

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Christopher Penn 0:00

In today’s episode Jerry asks, What makes for really good thought leadership? This is a very good question.

What is thought leadership? Right? It is got all sorts of definitions and names and stuff like that the expression I use is that my thinking, if I’m a thought leader, my thinking changes how you lead, right, I’m offering something that changes, how you see the world, how you understand the world, so that you can be a better leader.

Because a thought leader is not necessarily someone who’s seen a leader, leader, right, someone who is doing interesting research or building new works, or models or frameworks, they may not be heading up a fortune 500 company, but the leaders of fortune 500 companies when they ingest that knowledge can be better leaders.

So to me, what makes for good thought leadership is also what makes for good peer reviewed research.

And that is advancement.

I’ll tell you what doesn’t make for good thought leadership, the same old thing that we’ve been getting for decades, right? How many times have you heard you should be customer centric? Right? You should you should focus on the customer.

No kidding.

That’s not exactly news, right? We should be value oriented, we should strive to improve our services constantly.

We should raise our quality.

That’s not leadership.

That’s not thought leadership that doesn’t advance anything.

And if that’s news to you, and you’re the leader of an organization.

Yeah, that should not be news.

Right? Keep your customers happy should not be news.

If you read research papers, on places like archive, or PubMed, or any of the places, I spent a lot of time and research papers in the last three years because of COVID, reading all the the clinical research because they don’t trust what they see in the media.

And particularly for the ones that are sponsored by or published by NIH, the National Institute of Health, there’s always this great section in the abstract that says, what is known and what is added by this research, right? How does this particular research advance the understanding of the disease, the virus, the outcomes and things like that.

And I think that explanation, that little snippet in these peer reviewed, abstracts, is the essence of thought leadership.

Right? If we are talking about SEO, email marketing, and you publish some thought leadership, we certainly don’t need another thought leader position on writing engaging emails, right? Unless you have something in that, in that thought leadership piece in that paper that advances the field as a whole, that changes the knowledge we’re operating with that moves things ahead, right? Write more compelling emails, right, write more valuable emails, that’s not news.

That doesn’t add any value.

Writing in the first person with a casual tone of voice has a 16% greater conversion rate than not for B2B emails in the concrete industry.

That’s useful, that’s usable, that advances our understanding, if you do some research, and you create new knowledge, net new knowledge, that is thought leadership, right, because that is something you bring to the table that did not exist before.

It’s the same as your thesis.

If you’ve been a graduate student or a doctoral student, your thesis should be advancing the research of the knowledge of the field as a whole, even if the only advances are this much.

That’s still this much more than we know now as a civilization that we did not know before.

That’s an improvement.

And so, for Jerry’s question, what makes really good thought leadership is something that advances the field as a whole.

If you publish something that you claim as thought leadership or worship PR agency claims as thought leadership, and it doesn’t advance the field.

It’s not leadership, right? Because you’re basically just kind of recycling you retreading old ground, right? Leaders, by definition kind of have to lead they got to be out in front.

And if you’re not out in front with new stuff, you’re not leading, which means that what you’re publishing is not thought leadership.

It’s thought followership, you’re following safe, noncontroversial Do not inspiring, non helpful content.

So make content that advances the field as a whole.

What’s new that was not known before.

That’s thought leadership.

Thanks for the question.

Talk to you soon.

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