I've recently spent a week in Sydney with Matt Church becoming an accredited Thought Leaders Mentor ... another string to add to my business coaching bow. Consequently I've been thinking a lot about how thought leadership can help small business.
Thought leadership in a particular field means being an expert, but it's more than that. It's actually about extending the thinking in that area.
My dad is a thought leader in the domain of education. He's run a school for many years, and at the same time was a student of corporate management theory and best practice. He applied a lot of what he learnt to his school, things that weren't typically associated with education, including cutting edge management structures, new metrics and lots of different initiatives. He has created a whole new body of work within his domain.
He's been retired as a teacher for a few years, and now runs a business selling a student management database that he's developed to other schools. I think the best thing he can do to market his software is position himself as a thought leader. For him this would mean writing articles, delivering keynote speeches, getting published, and become known as the expert in school management best practice. And then rather than pay to sponsor a conference and get a chance to make his pitch, he would get paid to deliver his thought leadership. Which of course makes him much more attractive to buy from.
I was speaking to another client who runs the Australian arm of an international paint distribution company about how to increase their market share and improve the culture and morale of his organisation. Again I talked about thought leadership (yeah, I know, I'm like the bloke with a hammer ... everything looks like a nail!). We talked about taking his 2 or 3 best and brightest people, and positioning them as thought leaders, finding areas that they can become experts in (new cutting edge products, bonding qualities of certain polymers etc), and getting them speaking and writing about their area. Stay tuned over the next few months and I'll let you know how it goes.
How could positioning yourself as a thought leader impact your business?