Get Updates from us

On Twitter

Ask us anything!

Thought Out: Thankfulness and Turkeys on Thought Leadership in November


Image credit: timurock / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: timurock / 123RF Stock Photo

Here’s our monthly round-up of articles and blog posts on the topic of thought leadership that caught our attention in November. Some we were thankful to see…others we thought were “turkeys.” But you decide!

Truly Thankful:

1. Don’t Confuse Thought Leadership With Branded Content or Native Advertising.

Hallelujah! After having made several critical references to articles, supposedly about thought leadership, posted on the Forbes Blog, I was delighted to see this informative piece (part of an ongoing series) by Devia Temin and Ian Anderson. If you have ever been confused (and who wouldn’t?) by all those new terms knocking about… if you’ve ever asked yourself (or been asked):

Is the content your company produces, and posts on social media, thought leadership, branded content, content marketing or native advertising? And what is the most effective for your corporate needs?

then I recommend you read this piece.

What I especially liked about Devia’s explanation is not only that she “got” thought leadership:

Thought leadership is the platinum standard of content-based reputation enhancement. In its pure form, it is information, research, ideas, expert commentary, and opinion that exist for their own sake, not to prove a direct commercial point.

but she goes on to outline the kinds of organizations it is most suited to:

Thought leadership is best for professional services firms, investment managers, consultants, colleges and universities, and any institution looking to build intellectual capital and create relationships because people find them intelligent, expert, and impressive.

You’ll definitely be thankful you investigated this.

2. A short while ago Craig (Badings) and I were discussing how start-ups and enterprises could help each other more. Start-ups typically have unique ideas that could be woven into a thought leading position, while enterprises (who need such thought leadership inspiration) have the money with which to help start-ups get off the ground. Sadly, none of the young companies we approached to have us help them identify their thought leadership (and for free, while we tested the concept!) decided to move ahead. Seems everyone is far too busy — well, doing what, exactly? The same old, same old product marketing, I guess.

So William Mougayar’s piece entitled Where Is Your Thought Leadership? on the StartUp Management blog really caught my eye.

As he so rightly points out, the timing of thought leadership has changed. It is no longer the sole purview of companies that have already reached brand leadership. He goes on to point out:

With thought leadership, you can drive demand to the idea, before you drive demand to the product. If you believe the saying that “nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come”, then you will realize that the strength of your product will be directly related to the strength of the idea behind it. Thought leadership starts to put wind in the sails of your product.

As an entrepreneur, if you have thought leadership, you can start to display it in the early stages of your market development. This is important because you are in essence educating the market or the prospective user about something that will make them want to use your product.

We’d love to see more start-up entrepreneurs understand and benefit from the “gold” they have . Then to connect them with appropriate enterprises that would pay handsomely to partner with them around those insights. As you know (given the nature of our book #Thought Leadership Tweet), we LOVE questions. So, how about this one:

You are the visionary entrepreneur who has seen the future, or a slice of it. You have a vision about your product’s role in our lives, whether it’s used for a personal or business reason. So, what are you doing to educate your market to drive demand for your idea?

What, indeed!


I feel a little bad about giving the “turkey” designation to Mark Amtower’s opinion piece entitled 7 Elements of Thought Leadership. If only for the fact that while he has a lot of the right stuff in there, it often seems to the wrong way around. For example, he says:

The benefits of thought leadership are clear: recognition by the industry served by way of speaking engagements, articles, blogs and guest blogs, and more. Thought leadership is often accompanied by more business for you and your company.

I would argue that it’s “more business” which is the key driver. Indeed, as Craig and I have pointed out elsewhere, many thought leaders — and this is certainly true when we’re referring to thought leading organizations — eschew lots of speaking engagements, or are willing to spend their precious time writing articles, blogs and guest posts. Tellabs, for example, looks for one keynote speaking opportunity annually from their yearly proprietary research. While SKM has focused getting the authors of their wonderful book Insight Trading in front of key decision makers, rather than waste time blogging or writing articles that may get in front of people that neither want to be or could be clients of the firm.

Slow Content Movement logo

Slow Content Movement logo

As our Slow Content Movement approach stresses, it’s time to focus more on quality rather than quantity — whether we’re talking about content marketing generally or thought leadership specifically. (Which is antithetical to Michael Brenner’s recent suggestion that “We need more, better content. But start with more.” I believe that quality content, like cream, always rises to the top. It’s the “more, more, more” content that turns people off reading anything.)

Ultimately what we see with this blog post is yet another focus on thought leadership tactics that stresses the importance of things that –frankly — do not (in our experience) move the needle in terms of true differentiation. Or, as the sole commenter to Mr. Amtower’s post put it:

Big sales and most small ones are not bought for the thought leadership content that might fill the process methodology that you just laid out.

So – what has impressed or irritated you on the topic of thought leadership recently? Please send along your suggestions by emailing us, or add your comment below.

Dr. Liz Alexander is a co-founder at Leading Thought  and co-author of #Thought Leadership Tweet. As consulting co-author, she collaborates with aspiring authors who desire to write thought leading books. A frequent business traveler to India, Liz included Pune’s Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research in Leading Thought’s NEW global thought leaders audio series. Check it out, if you haven’t already.  First audio is FREE!!

Connect with Liz on LinkedIn. Follow her 140 character musings on Twitter: @LeadThought.  


About Dr. Liz Alexander

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our posts