By Mindy Gibbins-Klein MBA FPSA FRSA, Founder and CEO of REAL Thought Leaders, The Book Midwife® and Panoma Press
Business owners and executives beware, if you delegate your content strategy, you are not a thought leader.
Time and time again I see potentially inspirational thought leaders delegating one of the most critical differentiating strategies, when they should be creating the strategy and leveraging the thinking that got them to their position in the first place.
In a downturned market, executives can make a big impact by being bold and opionated in order to stand out in an increasingly competitive environment. Business leaders and executives need to be able to share experiences and knowledge and more importantly be able to share their wisdom and views on key issues within the market if they are to rise above their competition.
Quite simply, if you dont have have a thought leadership strategy, or if you delegate thought leadership to your marketing team or agency, you are not fulfilling your responsibility as a leader. In the current economic climate you need to be bold and opinonated.
Your opinions and beliefs are just as important as, if not more important than any experience or knowledge and it's fine for executives to share opinions as long as they let people know that's what they are. You can't be 'wrong' when you are stating an opinion. You only open yourself up for others to disagree with you if they feel like it, but supporters will feel closer to you. What is no longer possible now is never letting your team, your staff or other stakeholders know what you think about important issues, and to come across as bland, boring or similar to others in your field.
In times of economic hardship and stress, many businesses forget about marketing, especially any kind of strategic marketing of their leaders. But it is a well-known fact that people buy from people and particularly people they like. More business leaders and owners are starting to realise the importance of being seen and heard, and sharing personal views on key issues. After years of keeping personality out of business, the kind of openness and vulnerability they need to display is uncharted waters for many, and that’s what is preventing them from making headway. We see it in the open communication style prevalent in blogs, social media and even books written by business leaders. People see the leader is engaged, so they feel engaged and they are more likely to do business with that organisation.
Many executives I work with think they are too busy to be writing and publishing articles and blogs, and posting updates on social media. They don’t realise how easy it is to put together a content strategy and then involve other key leaders in the business, as well as marketing and PR teams to deliver the content. All the clever business leaders I know create the content strategy, then delegate and outsource many of the communications, including blog and article writing, and social media posts and updates.
There are some things only the executive should be doing, though. These things include coming up with the strategy and key messages (based on the company vision but, as mentioned above, also that executive’s unique viewpoint and added value). The executive is also the only one who should be engaging on a direct level via social media (for example, broadcasts that turn into dialogue, and comments on other blogs and online groups. It is too dangerous to delegate your thinking to someone else! And I think it is safe to say that only the business leader himself/herself is able to do their own public speaking engagements and videos!
As a key leader in your organisation, you need to consider cranking up the boldness in your message and getting it out more widely, letting people see that you are visible, vocal and involved. So, are you ready to be bold and get a better ROI on your efforts as a leading executive in your industry?