Corporate storytelling Leadership

Thought leadership: Beyond the buzzwords

Whether you’re crafting a TED talk, writing a book or case study, or shaping your leadership legacy, your path isn’t built upon trends or tactics. The qualities of your journey are more than likely an organic part of your mission and culture.

We’ve talked at length about how thought leadership can benefit organizations of all sizes. When developed and executed with care, thought leadership can strengthen company culture, add depth and authority to an enterprise content strategy, and provide a platform for big, innovative ideas.

All these considerations aside, thought leadership still has an uphill climb.

It’s often seen as an ivory tower thing.

It is unique as a fingerprint: No two thought leadership programs are identical. As a result, it might be viewed as esoteric, complex, inaccessible.

And unfortunately, thanks to the current social marketing climate, some may conflate thought leadership with influencer marketing.

We believe thought leadership offers companies and leaders a way to connect with people on matters that are far larger than one person, team, or company. That’s why we’re committed to breaking it down into digestible parts that anyone can understand and use.

Join us as we divorce thought leadership from the 21st century buzzwords that obscure its meaning and value. Here are a few of the simple qualities that help make up thought leadership.

Distinctive ideas

Analysis paralysis often keeps people from speaking out – even if they have great ideas. And no one can deny that the media landscape is oversaturated with content.

That’s why we must seize ownership of our inspirations, innovations, and successes. Be proud of what’s distinctive about ourselves. And show our work: Don’t just talk about what’s great – demonstrate great ideas in action.

Do this articulately and consistently. People will begin to recognize you as someone who has helpful answers to their problems.

Leading, not following

The problem with traditional marketing is that it often focuses so strongly on performance that it neglects two key factors in effective leadership communication (as well as leadership and communication): audience development and idea development.

Effective thought leadership refuses to chase trends. If anything, it inspires them. It’s problem-solving in action. It involves listening to the dialogue on a topic without falling prey to short-term thinking or mimicry.

The big picture

Sometimes, thought leadership emerges from creative and critical thinking about a complex, niche issue. However, all thought leadership is a result of understanding the wider implications of solving a problem – or redirecting existing attitudes.

Great ideas involve multiple perspectives. They aren’t myopic, needlessly contrarian, or frightfully dogmatic.

True thought leaders must be able to take a step back and demonstrate empathy (on the “human communication” side) and awareness of the world of variables that may carry weight on any given day.

Clear, memorable communication

Thanks to the proliferation of digital channels and platforms, anyone today can write or talk about anything on a public stage.

That doesn’t make everyone professional writers or speakers.

Some thought leaders are naturally gifted writers and speakers. However, not all naturally gifted writers and speakers have something valuable to share with the world. (Adam Neumann, here’s looking at you.)

It’s not a matter of humbling yourself to ask for help. It’s just smart business. Call upon experts in the creation and distribution of content to help develop and stress test your big ideas and find the best ways to share them.

It’s a mutually beneficial partnership that will lend valuable outside perspective to nascent or closely held innovations while giving content and communications pros insights into what makes their leaders tick and how their approach has shaped the company’s culture and mission.

Thoughtful engagement

Thought leadership isn’t just about getting big ideas out there into the world. It’s about participating in a dialogue.

Stay tuned in while developing your thought leadership program. Know what people are saying and why – and if the conversation changes, stay abreast of that, too. Listening is key to avoiding the echo chamber effect.

As more people recognize your expertise and appreciate your contributions to the dialogue, the more credibility you will amass.

After all, thought leadership isn’t just about your ideas. It’s about your passion and relatability, too.


Consummate Prose is your first stop for a thought leadership program that will strengthen your organization and shape innovative ideas into content that people will respond to. Contact us today to get started.

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