Thought leadership

Achieving thought-leadership status isn’t as tough as you might think.

In fact, it all starts with a guy called Dale...

Let’s talk for a second about Dale.

Dale left school at 15 and became what the media would call a New Age traveller. He’s now 54, the founder and owner of a renewable energy firm and an Officer of the British Empire (that’s an OBE recipient, to us lay-folk). Now, can you guess who this Dale might be?

The thought-leaders of today were all once unknown

Unless you joined the energy sector yesterday, you’ll have quickly placed the Dale in question as Dale Vince, the outspoken founder of electricity firm Ecotricity. But remember: Vince left school at 15 to wander freely through life. He spent the early 90s living in an abandoned military vehicle in Stroud.

You didn’t always know the Dale in question.

A second thought-leader you can also learn from

Admittedly, Dale Vince’s story has a romance about it that makes it recognisable. But running through the same exercise with Juliet Davenport would’ve worked just as well. The pair both cultivate their own public personas and are both quick to offer their opinion when the opportunity arises. Is there any way you, too, could carve out such a profile?

Ironically, you can’t become a thought-leader simply by thinking

Admittedly, it’s not easy. But, after working with dozens of clients in the energy environmental sectors, we can also say with confidence that becoming an authority in your niche is far from impossible. The trick is to stop thinking about it and to go ahead and do it. Here are the precise steps you’ll need to take.

Prioritise offering your opinion over grinding through your day job

First, a mentality change is needed. You’ll need to see giving your opinion as part of your role. Prioritise it over and above grinding through the day job. When a news story breaks, you need to react. You need to be ready to offer your opinion – and you need to have in place the following to do so...

The tools you must have ready and waiting

When it comes to thought-leadership, digital tools are essential. You need a blog and a social presence and you need to mix in the right digital circles (if you can latch on to controversy, even better). Webinars and seminars all add to your profile. If this seems outside of your remit then remember, multimillionaire Dale Vince still writes his own blog.

Offline, you’re going to need to seek out public speaking opportunities. There’s no time for introversion in the thought-leadership realm. It’s worth nominating ambassadors in your organisation. Whose opinion would work well at a conference or seminar?

Aim for incremental gains and let the rest fall into place

At Content Coms, we bake all of this into our clients’ comms strategies. Because – notwithstanding the odd high profile open letter to a minister – a series of incremental gains will usher you towards your coveted position. And working towards it is always a virtuous circle.

By Joanna Watchman, Founder and Managing Director at Content Coms