FAQs about Thought Leadership
What is Thought Leadership?
Thought Leadership happens when a particular “model”, or way of thinking, takes hold and become “the way” to think about something for a critical mass of people.
What is the point of Thought Leadership?
There are intrinsic rewards of leadership, including Thought Leadership, such as the satisfaction of helping others achieve richer, fuller, happier lives.
Thought Leadership can also be very profitable when applied as a marketing strategy. A company, entrepreneur or professional that originates a Thought Leadership Model (TLM) to help their marketplace extract more value will generally reap strong financial rewards if the TLM is embedded in experiencing the benefits of something they sell. These financial rewards are best experienced as "side effects" of creating TLMs that have a purpose to serve customers' best interests.
So should I aim to become a Thought Leader?
There is a better way to think about Thought Leadership: Instead of “becoming a Thought Leader”, aim to create one or more Thought Leadership Models, or “TLMs”.
OK, why is it better to create a “Thought Leadership Model” or, as you call it, “TLM”, instead of being a “Thought Leader”?
It clarifies thinking. It moves the focus from where the thought leadership originated to what the thought leadership is.
A Thought Leadership Model (TLM) is a system with a purpose. The purpose of a particular TLM might be to help a market make more informed buying decisions about a particular product or service.
One person can create multiple TLMs with different purposes for different situations.
A TLM can also be a group creation that comes from a collaborative effort. And a TLM can grow and change as it is released into the wild, with many people contributing to its evolution or adapting it to different situations.
Of course, if people label you as a thought leader because you originated one or more TLMs, no problem! Bask in the glory but not so much that it keeps you from focusing on your next TLM.
How do you define a good Thought Leadership Model?
A Thought Leadership Model can be described from many perspectives.
As mentioned earlier, a TLM is a system. A system has a system purpose. A system, being greater than the sum of its parts, has emergent properties. In business, increased customer loyalty, referrals, and sales can be emergent from a TLM that has a system purpose of empowering a marketplace.
A TLM is also a vehicle. It takes people on a ride to new mental places. It can be a vehicle of marketplace leadership. It can be a vehicle of customer empowerment.
A TLM is, obviously, a “model” as the "M" in TLM indicates. Models aren’t “real”. The menu is not the meal. Holding and looking at a map of a mountain is a very different experience from actually being on that mountain and feeling the breezy thin air of higher altitudes. However, models can be useful and a good model replaces older, less useful mental models that people hold about the topic. A new map of that mountain trail showing freshly hewn paths on solid ground is much better to go hiking with than an older map that still shows nonexistent older trails that were overgrown long ago.
A TLM is a gestalt, fed by the attention of contributors and consumers, that takes expression in various forms of media such as visual models expressed as infographics, written posts acting as manifestos, audio programs, and videos.
A TLM can be a memetic entity that takes on a life of its own and grows far beyond the bounds imagined by its originator.
A TLM is often an ongoing creative project, infused with purpose and distributed to an embracing audience via media.
A TLM can be encapsulated into an "elevator pitch": If you can't describe it in an elevator ride so a stranger understands it, it isn't clear enough to be a TLM.
How is a TLM best presented?
There are many ways, all of which connect to give the Thought Leadership Model a distinctive, memorable brand of its own. It can be represented by any combination of the following:
And the above list is far from exhaustive. How else can you see a Thought Leadership Model represented?
- A codified set of principles with a catchy name.
- An acronym.
- An infographic or other form of visual model.
- A how-to book with a strong central theme.
- An explainer video with a clear lesson to tell.
- An e-book manifesto.
- The thought leadership is embedded in the experience of a product or service with enough distinctiveness that the unique TLM becomes a talking point and spreads.