What skills do thought leadership practitioners need to be successful? Well, I think that there are many skills that are useful, but three that are absolutely essential. And they are analytical thinking, storytelling, and empathy.
Analytical thinking helps us see around corners into a potential future. It allows us to identify risks and opportunities that will be relevant and actionable.
Storytelling is how we bring these insights back and share them with people. Storytelling helps us communicate what is at stake, what actions need to be taken, and what success looks like.
And finally, empathy keeps us grounded. Without empathy, it’s easy for us to chase down intellectual rabbit holes. Finding things that are interesting to us but not relevant to the people we’re trying to reach and serve.
And so empathy allows us to focus on what matters to our audience rather than things that are curious or interesting to us.
Over my career, I’ve worked with a number of thought leadership practitioners. Almost all of them have had a strength in one of these three areas: analytical thinking, storytelling, or empathy.
Many have been strong in two areas. But the very best have been strong in all three.
Where are your strengths and what do you need to work on to be more effective as a thought leadership practitioner?