“Most people have heard about thought leadership before they even have a full understanding of what it means. Answering the question, “What is a Thought Leader” is key for any business owner, CEO, or startup.
After all, when you look up any given topic on a search engine, something high in the results is likely going to come in the form of an article or another piece of content, not from a company, but from an individual. To reach this point, they’re likely an official or unofficial thought leader.
The Basics On What Is A Thought Leader
Some people get the wrong impression when they hear about thought leadership. After all, it’s a common term often tossed around by high-level corporate executives—so it’s clearly an example of all style, no substance, right? Wrong. Basically, anyone who says they want to be a thought leader is saying that their goal is to be seen as a credible industry expert in their field.
There are a number of reasons to want to do this. The first, and probably the most obvious one, is to be seen as an authority by potential customers and clients. If they can put a face (a respected thought leader) to a product or service, it makes it that much easier to be credible. Jake Dunlap, founder and CEO of sales consulting firm Skaled, shared his perspective on it in an interview:
“They possess an innate ability to contribute to the conversations happening today, while also being able to speculate on what is going to happen tomorrow. Rather than chime in on every topic, they set the pace for the industry and offer intelligent insights and informed opinions,” Dunlap said.
With this said, it’s important that you don’t forget the leader along with the thoughts. When talking about what is a thought leader, it’s someone who not only has authoritative, well-researched ideas, but also is able to put them forward in an effective way that inspires others to do the same.
To put this in a more nuts-and-bolts term, this is why you see so many thought leaders ranking high on Google with their content. Not only are they well known, but a lot of the time, their advice is actionable. This means that people are more likely to share and link to their content, meaning higher SEO rankings.
What Is a Thought Leader and Could it Be You?
While a lot of the largest thought leaders in the field are at the C-suite level of major companies, this doesn’t mean other people can’t reach that point. Anyone who has a good knowledge of their niche and an interest in guiding others can be an effective thought leader—given time.
If you are interested in taking this road for yourself, you’re in luck! Our full guide on How To Become A Thought Leader will help you make that next step after understanding what is a thought leader. Know about the benefits and risks, the channels that will get your name and content out there, as well as how to measure your ROI in this endeavor.
David is the Founder and Director of article-writing.co, the fastest-growing content creation agency in North America. He has transformed companies by offering high-quality content that has impacted their SEO ranking, revitalized websites with engaging and industry-relevant blogs and website copy, and championed successful email campaign copy.