The art of seeing the invisible
Acting, not reacting - how high expertise and questioning can become a strategy.
Jonathan Swift once said, "Vision is the art of seeing the invisible." A quote so powerful that it probably leaves most with wide eyes and a sighed "Whew." So how does that work, seeing the invisible? Are there special VR glasses for that?
Of course not, because if you put Swift's statement in context, it's much more about thinking outside the box and asking yourself questions that no one has asked before. Questions for which there are perhaps still hardly any or even no search results in Google. Being visionary and innovative - that's what it's all about. And with that, we are opening a drawer today that is more than just a buzzword: thought leadership.
Thought Leadership - an overview
Thought Leadership? If one were to translate it literally - namely "thought", the English verb for to think or to have thought and "leadership", English for "leadership" or "management" - then one would have "thought leadership". That can't be what is meant, can it?
It isn't, because behind thought leadership is something else - opinion leadership or thought leadership. So what is thought leadership?
Roughly speaking, thought leadership is a marketing approach by companies or individuals who have a high level of expertise in a field and at the same time embody innovation and vision.
Of course, that's still very theoretical now, so what does it mean more specifically?
A company positions itself as a leading authority and expert, presenting innovative ideas, insights and visions that have a positive impact on the industry and can be considered groundbreaking. A thought leader is characterized by having deep expertise, extensive experience, and a creative mindset that enables him or her to offer new perspectives and analyze complex problems. In other words, he doesn't just know a subject well, he knows it very, very well.
It is not just about repeating known and existing facts, but about presenting new ideas that can bring about positive change. So companies ask themselves questions that no one has asked before and try to answer them. It is also about having answers to specific questions posed by the target group. Because an innovative approach can also be hidden in this.
Thought leadership is often established in public through the publication of professional articles, research studies, lectures, interviews, podcasts and other forms of expert communication. thus, the expertise and leadership position becomes visible to the outside world, which can lead to an increased reputation and credibility.
Another important aspect of thought leadership is the ability to recognize trends and developments at an early stage and to actively participate in discussions and innovations. This can provide the opportunity to influence the direction of an industry and be perceived as a thought leader. Which brings us back to the point of "seeing the invisible."
Thought leadership - what's the point?
What can such a pioneering role bring, you ask yourself? After all, crazy ideas can also be met with incomprehension or skepticism.
One of the main benefits of thought leadership is that it generates attention. People who are known for their knowledge are usually perceived as credible and trustworthy. And thought leaders continually demonstrate their knowledge and associated authority, as they never miss an opportunity to communicate and pass on knowledge and share their experiences.
So those are two different benefits: Generating attention and building trust. Both triggered by credibility. And from the attention generated, there can also be a great reach. Could be another benefit of this strategy, right?
But there's more:
Gain a competitive advantage: Positioning yourself as a leading authority can set you apart from competitors. Potential customers and business partners are more inclined to work with a company or individual who is recognized as a thought leader.
Encourage innovation: This approach by companies, for example, also encourages employees to drive new ideas and innovation. By sharing breakthrough concepts, new approaches and solutions to existing challenges can be found.
Perception as an employer or employer brand: companies that are recognized as thought leaders not only attract customers, but also talented professionals. A reputation as an innovator and expert can be attractive to potential employees and facilitate recruiting.
Coping with crises: In times of crisis or scandal, thought leadership can help restore public trust. A well-established reputation as an expert can help limit negative fallout and better manage the crisis.
Brand building: thought leadership helps build a strong and memorable brand. The brand becomes associated with knowledge, innovation and quality, which can lead to stronger customer loyalty in the long run.
Influence: Thought leaders have the opportunity to influence the discussion in their industry and drive trends. This allows them to actively contribute to the advancement of the industry and be perceived as shapers.
Networking: Thought leaders like to be invited to conferences, trade shows and events. This allows them to exchange ideas with other experts, opinion leaders and potential business partners. So there is no limit to innovation.
So there is a whole bouquet of aspects why thought leadership is a valuable approach for companies and/or individuals.
What else to consider
That sounds so good, you could start right away, couldn't you? It's not quite that simple, because just having great expertise is not enough for thought leadership. Expertise is step 1, so to speak, but ideally there should also be proof and evidence of one's own expertise and perhaps some authority and name recognition.
Comprehensive knowledge of the target group and its needs should not be neglected either. Because without knowing the target group inside out, it will be difficult to answer questions that the target group may ask or could ask tomorrow.
Ambition, self-confidence, passion and curiosity are further, very important aspects that a thought leader should bring along. After all, an intrinsic motivation to become better, to grow beyond oneself and that, coupled with the curiosity to discover new things, are crucial to really seeing and finding the "invisible".
Self-confidence and passion are important especially in terms of impact on others, because being able to emphatically represent your own knowledge and captivate others definitely helps. A great example of this is Steve Jobs.
So there is a toolbox full of resources that can help. First and foremost, of course, one's own knowledge in the field.
We have been inspired for this article and have looked around, asked around and researched extensively. We would like to list a few articles and books here for those who want to delve deeper:
Thought Leadership: Definition, Examples and Benefits in Marketing by Robert Weller.
Thought Leadership published in Content Creation Hub
Thought Leadership - what's behind it by Claneo
Thought Leadership meets Business by Peter Lorange
Essentials of Thought Leadership and Content Marketing by Paul M. Kaplan
Becoming a visionary and being able to see the invisible, a summary of thought leadership that gives you at least a rough sense of what it's all about. There's a lot more to it than that, and becoming a thought leader is not something that can be done overnight or without a corresponding amount of work. But what is it that anyone can do, thought leader, high expertise or not? Think outside the box, get creative in questioning, take different perspectives. Trying to think about tomorrow without special VR goggles and maybe finding semi-transparent things. Possible, isn't it?
What can be found at first glance and without glasses are our other articles in the blog. Feel free to take a look.