Some thoughts on thought leadership


by Lee Caraher

I’ve had so many people ask me about thought leadership lately, I thought I’d share my thoughts here (see what I did there?).

1.  What exactly is thought leadership? A thought leader is an  expert whose opinion is sought after by others on a specific topic. Thought leaders possess a wealth of expertise and experience, and their insights hold weight because they offer practical and applicable advice.

2. How does one become a thought leader? News flash: authentic thought leadership is not self-proclaimed; it is a label bestowed by others who acknowledge the value and impact of your contributions. It requires sharing your wisdom and guidance through various means: speaking engagements, writing books, commenting on posts, hosting podcasts, and more. The key to becoming a thought leader is to adopt a servant leadership mindset, focusing on how your insights can genuinely assist and benefit others.

To become a thought leader, you must be credible. That means, you need to establish trust through evidence and back up your ideas with data, success stories, or testimonials. Then, you need to add a strong point of view, preferably a  long-term view, connecting dots and anticipating future trends and challenges.

3. How do thought leaders excel? Thought leaders thrive by serving their audience and helping them overcome obstacles, guiding them towards success and reducing friction in their lives. By understanding your target audience, their pain points, and where, when and why they seek information, you can tailor your content and communication method and channel to best reach and engage them.

4. Who should be a thought leader? At a minimum, every CEO needs to be engaged as a thought leader for their most important audience – their employees. Future employees will be easier to find and attract if the CEO and other company leaders are sharing their POV, insights and visions for the future in a public forum. Increasingly, candidates are self-selecting themselves out of job searches when they can’t find – or don’t align with a company. The job market is strong and is expected to stay strong, so thought leadership is a key strategic advantage in the perennial fight for talent.  

5. How do you build your thought leadership platform? Consider leveraging various tools to amplify your POV. This could include writing articles, guest posting, engaging in social media discussions (who’s on Thread?), or hosting a podcast. Consistency is key, and persistence is vital. It takes time to build an audience, so be patient and committed.

And finally, don’t forget the power of newsletters. You can publish via  services like Keap, or, create a LinkedIn LinkedIn. Share your thoughts, reference relevant articles, and provide resources that cater to your audience’s needs. Over time, your email list will grow as more people recognize the value you bring.

Everyone has the potential to be a thought leader – but you’ve got to have something to say and a willingness to say it. I’ve got more to say on this topic: listen to my podcast here.