What Is Thought Leadership?

5 min read
Apr 21, 2021 12:17:09 PM

Knowledgeable, proficient, savvy, experienced, successful, insightful, and influential are characteristics we expect of a thought leader. 


Thought leaders are considered authorities in their areas of expertise and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and using it to help others. They publicize their advice and innovative ideas by speaking and writing about them and have the power to influence their audience.


With the rise of social media platforms, thought leaders have the potential to reach limitless people to share their opinions. Their followers look to them as the go-to expert, and many thought leaders profit from dispersing their knowledge. 


Thought leadership is also excellent for business. Some companies and businesses have worked to establish themselves as thought leaders in their field as a marketing strategy. Consumers are more likely to turn to go with a company whom they believe is the leading expert in the industry. It increases the company’s visibility which leads to more sales.

thought leadership examples

What Does it Take to Be a Thought Leader? 


Being smart is not enough to make someone a thought leader. Thought leadership means having: 


Success in a Niche


Customers, potential clients, and the general public look up to people who are known for their success. People want to hear the opinion and advice of those who have experience and success in the area they are interested in. 


High Reputation


Someone with professional credibility who has made a name for themselves in the industry will be more influential than someone new to the scene. The audience wants to hear from an authority with vast experience and who has success stories.


An Opinion


A thought leader needs to have a clear direction to advise their following. The audience wants to know what the thought leader’s general point of view is when they are listening and reading to their works.


Be Passionate and Authentic


A compelling thought leader is one who's love and excitement for their niche show through their words and actions. They are unique and authentic and don't copy another personality or try to pretend to be someone else. The audience knows when someone is genuine.


An Audience


A leader is only a leader if there are followers. Thought leadership requires a large following of people who support, trust, and are interested in hearing their views and opinions. They are willing to collaborate with other thought leaders and use the media to attract a bigger audience. Thought leaders should identify their target audience and research how to most effectively reach and communicate with them.


Executive Thought Leadership Strategy


It takes much time, work, and dedication to build up a devoted audience. The following thought leadership strategies can help them gain the following they need:


  1. Identify their niche. A thought leader should define their area of expertise and focus on that field rather than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. If their experience is in the field of travel, they should write and speak of their travel experiences and give tips and advice in that area.
  2. Speak to the audience. An important part of thought leadership is knowing the target audience and speaking in the tone that will resonate with them. Thought leaders should be consistent in their voice across all platforms. Does their following want them to be professional or casual? Most importantly, the tone should represent the voice of the thought leader.
  3. Stay up-to-date and relevant. While the public wants to hear from someone with experience; their words need to be practical and relatable to their followers. A thought leader should keep up with their industry, know the current trends, understand the market, and offer practical solutions. No one wants to hear what they could have done last year; they want to know what they can do this year.
  4. Be open-minded. A good thought leader is open to hearing others’ thoughts and opinions and isn’t afraid to learn and share ideas from others. Collaborate with others, do a podcast together, or even share each other’s posts.
  5. Use a variety of platforms. There are so many ways to reach an audience and thought leaders can expand their outreach by utilizing as many of them as possible. The most common platforms include social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram), blogs, websites, magazines and newspapers, books, videos, podcasts, radio, a personal portfolio website, interviews, and public speaking.
  6. Be consistent. It’s important for thought leaders to interact frequently with their audience by utilizing the various platforms mentioned above. Examples include posting on social media, getting interviewed on a podcast, writing an article, or hosting a radio segment. Stay relevant.

Thought Leadership Examples


There are thought leaders in every industry and profession. Some examples of thought leadership in different fields are:


David Ramsey - Personal Finances 


David Ramsey built a massive following of people by offering advice on how to handle one's personal finances and to stay out of debt. He sold millions of books, and his talk show attracts millions of listeners each week. One of his more famous quotes is “Success is a pile of failures you're standing on top of, instead of underneath.”


Mike Michalowicz - Entrepreneur


Mike Michalowicz is a leading business expert. He founded more than one multi-million dollar company, lost it all, and then started another. His entrepreneurial experience makes him a thought leader in growing a business. He’s a sought-after speaker and has authored multiple books, hosts a popular podcast, and writes a column for The Wall Street Journal. 


Kimberly Bryant - Education


Kimberly Bryant is an engineer who started Black Girls Code, an organization to get girls of color involved in STEM. She has a tremendous following on her social media accounts and is passionate about her project. She and her organization have won awards and been recognized by the White House for their efforts. 


Justin Dry - Retail: Wine


Justin Dry is one of the founders of Vinomofo, a company that offers great deals on wine. He established himself as a thought leader by becoming a public speaker, creating interesting content, and sharing his inspirations. He is quoted as describing running his business as, “living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”




Thought leadership establishes an individual or company as an expert in their field. It is a great marketing tactic and can be a profitable business strategy when executed correctly. A thought leader should take advantage of the different platforms out there to connect to as great of an audience as possible and be consistent with putting out their words of advice to stay relevant. 


Personal brand services by New Reputation can help one become an established thought leader in their industry.

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