2021: The Year of Thought Leadership

If there’s one good thing that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it forced the world to stop and think about what matters most to them. To many that came on a personal level, but for others it was business-related. Many executives had the time to think deeply about areas of their industry they are passionate about. Many even put their pen to paper and captured their thoughts in blogs, articles and social media posts. Seemingly, Thought Leaders were born overnight.

But Thought Leadership is a lot more than just having good ideas and writing them down. It’s being able to turn those thoughts into action, and from those actions, driving results across the business. It’s also being able to foster a dedicated base of followers to help them replicate and scale those ideas, so they deliver measurable results.

Thought Leadership can be helpful to both the Thought Leader and the company they represent.  A survey recruiters shows that 82% of recruiters surveyed said a job candidate’s Thought Leadership is more important to employers than before the pandemic. Meanwhile, 56% of recruiters surveyed said Thought Leaders can command a salary premium compared to non-Thought Leaders. Depending on the topics the Thought Leader expounds upon, this can have significant pull-through to the company the Thought Leader represents.

So, did you spend 2020 working on Thought Leadership for yourself or your executives? If not, 2021 is definitely the time to get started. With most live events turning remote, at least through the first half of the year, developing a Thought Leadership program is a great way to get exposure on the topics that matter to your company. In other words, it’s time to put on your thinking cap, come up with a list of topics, and polish your writing skills.

What does it take to be a true Thought Leader? Below is a short list of characteristics most Thought Leaders share:

  • Thought Leaders have original thought. They aren’t followers. They are constantly wondering “What if…? How can I solve this problem? How can I make this particular thing better?”
  • They have a clear vision about the way things need to be and can look several years down the road with clarity. They are then able to articulate that vision in a clear, compelling way.
  • They know who to task with execution to put those ideas into action, and from there, drive results.
  • They are passionate about their ideas and know how to quickly make arguments to back their vision. They also take into consideration counterpoints and know how to skillfully address detractors.
  • They are good listeners. They listen to supporters and detractors and learn from them, quickly incorporating good points (pro and con) into their vernacular.
  • They command attention. A Thought Leader can talk to any person at any level because they naturally are able to break down ideas into their most common tenets and put them back together appropriately for the right audience. This trait is not as simple as turning engineering speak into common language; many subject matter experts find that easy to do. Thought Leaders in many cases just naturally think in this manner, and it shows in the way they are able to share their ideas to multiple audiences.

As you can probably guess, a Thought Leader is comfortable with being the center of attention. It’s not a job for everyone, so when pursuing Thought Leadership status for your executives, ensure you have identified the right people with the right characteristics to put your company on a path to success.

Want to learn more about how to cultivate Thought Leadership in 2021? Download Calysto’s white paper.

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