Thought leadership posts (or “thought pieces,” as I’ve called them before on this blog) are an important part of a balanced blog. They play a key role in establishing and deepening your relationship with your readers.
Do you need to be a thought leader?
There’s a lot of buzz about being a “thought leader” these days (though according to Wikipedia the term has been around since 1994), but do you need to be one? Absolutely not!
There is no need to pressure yourself with trying to reinvent the wheel, especially since most of what you will write about is not new at all. In fact, breaking new ground as an innovator is only one of several possible reasons to write a thought leadership post.
Four ways to be a thought leader with your writing
- Propose your own theory or explanation behind a specific challenge or phenomenon – this is what most people think of as thought leadership; coming up with a brand new idea to explain something better and more clearly than anyone before
- Take a stand on an issue that’s important to you, even when that is contrary to popular opinion – another commonly recommended blogging technique, where you attract attention with passion and controversy
- Present a puzzle, unanswered question or other “food for thought” that leads your reader to new insights or awareness – a natural approach for coaches and trainers, this allows you to use your natural talent for empowerment to lead your reader to discover their own new truths
- Put your own unique take on an established principle or solution – ah-hah, here’s where anyone gets to be a thought leader; as Andrea J. Lee taught me, there are people in this world who can ONLY hear a message from YOU; they’re tuned into your frequency and your way of explaining things (and I bet you’re already writing these type of blog posts)
What makes something a thought leadership post?
You can set out to write a thought leadership piece, but you won’t really know you’ve done it until you see the response. For example, in Part 2 of this series, I wrote about beating the imposter syndrome by building a mountain of content.
A few people responded publicly (by tweeting, retweeting or commenting), and a few others have emailed me privately. I know they represent others who appreciated my take on this topic but didn’t necessarily reply.
I knew I’d struck a chord with that post, and you’ll know when it happens to you.
How to write a thought leadership piece
What are you feeling passionate about sharing with your readers? Do some free writing (either by hand or on the computer) about the topic and see where that leads you.
In my April 2010 post about thought pieces, I suggested four ways to delve more deeply into a topic:
- Define (what is your topic?)
- Deconstruct (what’s it made of?)
- Differentiate (how is it different from other things? how are its elements different from each other?)
- Dispute (how are other points of view on this topic inaccurate or ineffective?)
Use these broad categories to jumpstart your brainstorming, or as a structure for dividing what you’ve written into sections.
Introduce the topic by explaining why you think it’s relevant for your readers, and conclude by asking them to take an action.
Even if you don’t feel like a thought leader (maybe you actually feel like an imposter), I still encourage you to try your hand at writing a thought leadership piece. Chances are, you already have.