What Is Thought Leadership and How Do You Practice It?

January 16th, 2020 Alexandra Hughes

Many people will probably file the term “thought leadership” under corporate buzzwords that don’t mean anything. But thought leaders are, in fact, quite valuable assets to many companies.

If you’ve been wondering what thought leadership is and how you can become a thought leader in your field, then this guide is for you.

What is thought leadership?

The term thought leadership has emerged in the era of content marketing. Every company is trying to demonstrate their expertise in their respective industries. They do this by disseminating information about their field in order to attract new clients.

Thought leadership is the practice of doing so consistently to the point where you’re considered the go-to expert. For example, you may think of Brian Dean from Backlinko when you heard the word backlinks. Or you may think about Neil Patel from Sprout Social when you discuss social media marketing.

That’s because they’re thought leaders.

How to practice thought leadership

If you want to aspire to become a thought leader yourself, let’s look at what effective thought leadership requires.

1. Expertise

The first thing you’ll need as a thought leader is a very deep knowledge of your field. You have to be an expert and be able to answer pretty much every question that is thrown your way.

2. Involvement

Expertise is great, but you also need to stay up to date. Thought leadership means to involve yourself in the industry, know what’s trending and what’s not, and what will happen in the future.

3. Uniqueness

Many people try to be thought leaders and may tick the first two boxes: expertise and involvement. But what makes you special? Thought leaders need a unique point of view.

4. Credibility

Okay, so you’ve got the know-how, you’re involved, and your voice is unique. But what results do you have to back up your claims? A thought leader needs to be trustworthy and credible.


Finally, you’ll need a decent following. People are attracted to social proof, and that comes in the form of a dedicated fan base who clings on to every wise word that you publish online.

What should you do next?

Make a list of the things you’re the best at. That could be marketing, management, or any niche that your business specialises in.

See if you can come up with content ideas that you use as a base for blog posts, videos, podcasts, memes, and any other piece of content you can think of.

Then you lay out a content strategy for how and when to disseminate the information. It’s also a good idea to join professional groups where you can exchange ideas with other would-be thought leaders.

Lead the way

You now know what thought leadership is and what it requires from you. You won’t achieve thought leader status overnight, there’s no better time to start building your personal brand on LinkedIn than now.