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Thought Leadership FAQs

Thought Leadership is influencing an audience to embrace a particular “model”, or way of thinking about a topic. The model becomes the way to think about it.


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FAQs about Thought Leadership

What is Thought Leadership?

Thought Leadership happens when an individual or organization influences an audience to embrace a particular “model”, or way of thinking about a topic. This audience now considers the model as the way to think about it.

When used in business, the topic can be a field, profession, product/service category or niche.

These models of thinking can include how to use a product or service, what qualities are important, and its role in the lives of the audience.

They might be packaged in infographics, pdf eBooks, published books, slideshows, conference presentations, podcasts, videos, blogs, or a myriad other "containers". But the type of vessel doesn't make it thought leadership: it is about the impact of the well-organized information it contains.

Also, see this definition of thought leadership.

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. It feels good to empower others using skills or knowledge you have invested in developing then packaged creatively for positive influence.

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 can reap strong financial rewards. It is a more effective and efficient way to market.

A recent study showed 58% of B2B decision makers chose vendors based on their thought leadership. And it could be even higher: such studies can miss the subconscious impact of shaping market thinking strategically.
It may seem paradoxical that the financial rewards are most powerful when they are side effects. More sales, leads, and higher lead conversion are happy consequences of creating thought leadership with a primary purpose of serving others.

So should I aim to become a Thought Leader?

There is a better way to think about Thought Leadership: Instead of intending to become a Thought Leader, aim to create one or more Thought Leadership Models, or “TLMs”.

This is actually a more enlightened approach. It opens the floodgates to more positive thought leadership and expands the benefits to more people.

Further, there are many businesspeople and professionals who don't see themselves as "thought leaders" or are simply uncomfortable with the label.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to identify as a thought leader to reap the benefits of creating one or more Thought Leadership Models. And generating then promoting TLM's through the practice of Strategic Thought Leadership can upgrade the marketing, influence, and customer service of any merit-worthy business, professional practice, brand, or solopreneur.

OK, tell me more about why it's better to create a “Thought Leadership Model” (or, “TLM”) instead of aiming to "be a Thought Leader”?

It clarifies thinking by moving 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.

A person or organization 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.

So, it should be effective at achieving its purpose of empowerment.

A TLM is also a vehicle. It takes people on a journey to new mental places. It can be a vehicle of marketplace leadership.

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, feeling the hard rock under your boots, seeing the shadow across the valley as the sun sets, smelling the musty forest, and getting chilled by the breezy thin air of higher altitudes.

However, models can be useful and Thought Leadership Models are better models as they helpfully replace older, less useful mental models that people held. 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 currently nonexistent trails that were overgrown long ago.

What are some examples of effective Thought Leadership Models?

There are many that are used as case studies in the Thought Leadership Studio Podcast. Give it a listen and subscribe with your favorite podcast app.

Also, there is an example of a Market Leadership Playbook that gives an orchestrated back-story of thought leadership which you can instantly access with a free site membership.

How can I get help with my thought leadership marketing for my organization?

Check out our Corporate Thought Leadership Consulting Services for an example of the types of services available for organizations.

How can I most quickly and time-efficiently develop my own individual thought leadership?

Your needs might be a fit for NLP-based coaching or other thought leadership support services- click to our Thought Leadership and Marketing Services page for others.


Written by Chris McNeil, Strategic Thought Leadership NLP Coach and Consultant, Founder of Thaut, host of Thought Leadership Studio podcast, and Creator of the Thaut Process of Strategic Thought Leadership.

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