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Accidental Thought Leaders

TLL and Intelligent Ink

Join us today as Bill Sherman, COO of Thought Leadership Leverage and Verity Craft, General Manager and Storyteller of Intelligent Ink talk about accidental thought leaders!


Verity Craft: An accidental thought leader in my mind is somebody who ends up with people asking them for advice, coming to them for their expertise, who ends up maybe speaking, maybe writing, doing a bunch of different consulting, or coaching. And people see them as an expert. But they don’t necessarily, they haven’t necessarily decided to do that. And we see that with clients all the time — where they’re experts in whatever they do in their business — but they, you know, haven’t necessarily made a strategic decision. And when they start chatting to us it’s because they start to go, “Well, wait a minute. Could I do more if I was doing this in a more strategic way or if I was actually putting things out more consistently?” How about you? What do you see with accidental thought leaders?

Bill Sherman: So, it shows in a couple of different ways — both for individuals and organizations. With organizations, it’s surprisingly common that they start dabbling in thought leadership. And then someone, usually at the executive level, becomes a champion and says, “We need to do more of that.” And so, they look across the organization and say, “Who would be a good person that will fit in this role?” And I’ve had many conversations with people who carry today a title of “Head of Thought Leadership”, but previously they were in sales engineering, public policy. They were in content marketing. And they had what they describe as ‘the meeting.’ Someone from leadership came and said, We’d like you to do thought leadership.” “Okay, what’s that? And how do I do that well?” And there’s a moment of both opportunity and what I’ve described as fear when the organization looks and says, “We think you’re going to be good at this.” “Well, what is it?” “Well, we can’t quite describe it yet. But we think you’ll be good.”

Verity Craft: Yeah. And I think interestingly because we work closely with business owners —and in most cases, they have this weird feeling — where even though people are already coming to them for their expertise and already see them as this leader — they have this moment of, “Oh, I don’t know if I can do that.” or “I don’t know if I’m good enough or know enough to be a thought leader.” So it’s an interesting thing. Where often for a lot of people — people will see them as a thought leader before they actually make any decision to become one.

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