On occasion, prospective clients come to us and ask us to help them draft content that makes them sound like a leader. That’s actually backwards. What we help companies do is draft content that sounds like their leaders think. The work of being a thought leader starts long before the first word hits the page.
As any leader will tell you, leadership is a choice that we make when we overcome our fears, and the fears of those who follow us. You can’t just put on a name badge that says “manager” on it. It’s our actions that reveal us as leaders. You have to take the kinds of actions that you think will lead to better outcomes.
They will not always be correct in your choices, but over time experienced leaders learn from their mistakes and make better choices.
The rest of us identify leaders by the actions they take. That’s why much of the thought leadership we help our clients craft speaks to the actions they have taken and the plans they have for future actions.
The skills that reveal business leaders
Over the years, it has become very clear to us that leadership is not really about being in charge; it is about inspiring and guiding others towards a common goal.
It requires a combination of personal qualities, knowledge, and skills that enable individuals to effectively lead and motivate a team. While some people may possess natural leadership abilities, it is a skill that can be developed and honed through practice and experience. In some cases, leaders can get outside support.
One of the most important skills a leader must possess is effective communication, but not all leaders are comfortable with writing speeches or articles. And yet, without these tools, it becomes very difficult to share a compelling vision.
Leaders must be able to clearly articulate their vision and goals to their team members. But this doesn’t mean they have to be great writers. Unlike a predisposition to take action, they can get that skill from someone else. It’s our favorite kind of work to do.
Leaders must also be good listeners, open to feedback and ideas from others. By fostering open and honest communication, leaders can create an environment where team members feel valued and empowered. But many are afraid to speak their truth to power directly and prefer to share their thoughts with an outside agency that will ensure their anonymity. We do that, as well.
The leadership skill that cannot be outsourced
Perhaps the most important skill for leaders is the ability to make decisions.
Leaders must be able to analyze situations, gather information, and make informed choices. They must also be willing to take risks and accept responsibility for the outcomes of their decisions. By making timely and well-thought-out decisions, leaders can inspire confidence and trust in their team.
By moving forward confidently on their decisions, leaders lead by example. They must embody the values and behaviors they expect from their team members. Leaders must be honest, ethical, and accountable for their actions. By setting a positive example, leaders can inspire trust and loyalty in their team.
Brand journalists record these actions and behaviors and share them with the team, making it easier for leaders to share good examples and the corporate values and mission.
Taken together, good thought leadership content brings the company’s leader to life in the minds of followers who are somewhat removed from the C-suite, who don’t have the opportunity to see or hear the leader on a daily basis. It also provides strong, clear market signals to competitors, partners and prospects about the direction the company is taking and the intentions of its leadership.
You can’t make that stuff up. But, speaking as a writer, it’s a joy to put it into writing when you see it.