3 Styles of Thought Leadership: Quantity, Originality and Trendsetting

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Just as real life leaders have leadership styles, so do thought leaders. According to this article from Entrepreneur, there are four types of leaders in Game of Thrones: the surreptitious, self-serving leader embodied by Cersei Lannister, the naïve leader with all the best intentions, embodied by Daenerys Targaryen, the leader who’s not so great with people, embodied by Stannis Baratheon and the young leader who inspires engagement embodied by Jon Snow.

Since Jon Snow is now dead, killed by his own men at the wall, we may question this writer’s analysis! However, there is something to be said for the idea that each leader has different characteristics. They may all have one thing in common i.e., leading people, however they each do so in different ways. And when it comes to thought leadership as well, you can adopt different styles, depending on what you prefer and what works for you and your audience. Here are a few ideas:

Thought Leadership Through Sheer Quantity

There are certain thought leaders who just think it’s really important to keep giving their audience information. If anything new happens within their company or their field, they’ll start blogging or tweeting about it. They’ll put links to articles on social media. They’ll make sure that they’re on the pulse of their industry; nothing will pass them by.

  • Building a Reputation Based on Quantity. Increasing the quantity of information you put out is definitely a good idea, as far as thought leadership goes. People will look up to you when they realize that you have such a vast fund of knowledge. And there are definitely websites which have built up their reputations by just putting up as much information as they can e.g., Wikipedia, eHow, About.com, IMDB etc.
  • Maintaining Quality. The trick here is to make sure that all the information you put up is accurate and well-written. You can’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. So if this is what your thought leadership style is like, make sure that you put some effort into fact-checking and writing well. You can even employ researchers or writers to make sure that everything you post meets the necessary standards.

Thought Leadership Through Originality

This is generally what people associate with the idea of thought leadership i.e., having some original thoughts. There are many bloggers who put their own spin on topics that are close to them, ranging from fashion and beauty to motherhood and politics. You can, of course, be unique without necessarily becoming a thought leader but most of the time, you can’t become a thought leader without some degree of originality.

  • How Original Do You Have to Be? As mentioned above, you can become a thought leader just by posting a vast variety of information. But if you have something original to say, you’re likely to get a lot more attention on the internet. This might be especially true if your opinions run contrary to what everyone else is saying. However, even just putting your own slant on things can help you to be original. This means that you don’t have to be 100% original but as long as you can throw a few unique thoughts into your writing, you’ll still be able to stand out.
  • Having Confidence in Your Own Thoughts. A lot of people think that originality is really difficult. After all, hasn’t everything worth saying already been said? This is a somewhat defeatist outlook. Instead, you have to be convinced that your own views and ideas are deserving of attention. Becoming a thought leader begins with confidence in your own thoughts.

Thought Leadership and Trendsetting

Another thing that often helps people to stand out as thought leaders is if they have a more “cutting edge” mentality. You could also call this being trendy or being ahead of the trends. There are people who are trendsetters; if you can be one of them, you have a good chance of becoming a thought leader.

  • Trends in Website Design. How exactly do you stay one step ahead of the trends? And what trends exactly are we talking about? The internet is always changing, so the way in which websites are designed also changes. If you can stay abreast of the latest styles of website design, this will help you in being a thought leader.
  • Trends in Your Field. You can also stay abreast of the trends in your field, no matter what that field might be. Even if you’re just a locksmith (a field that doesn’t necessarily have a reputation for having many trends), you can still keep updating your website with the latest types of locks, security measures, safes etc. You don’t even necessarily need to be providing all these services in order to write about them. You can just assume that people who are interested in new locks might also be interested in other security measures.
  • Following Trends vs. Setting Them. Keeping up with what’s going on can help you to become a thought leader. But setting trends is different from following them and requires a certain acumen and vision. Consider Steve Jobs, for example. The entire Apple line of products has always been trendsetting because Jobs envisioned sleek, high-functioning computers. Try to think about your vision for yourself, your company and your website. This will help you to become a trendsetter rather than a follower.
  • Trends and Aesthetics. When you’re trying to set a trend, you have to take aesthetics into consideration, no matter what field you’re in. How can you try to make your product more aesthetically appealing and functional at the same time? If you can answer this question, you’re 90% of the way towards becoming a trendsetter.
Matthew Santos

About Matthew Santos

Matthew is one of our SEO leads at Foxtail. He brings the grit that allowed him to play D1 football to the office every day.

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