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The Four Elements of Thought Leadership

How do you define thought leadership?

Here’s a framework I created for thought leadership practitioners.

It’s the Four Elements of Thought Leadership

Now, before we begin.

Let’s clear the air.

There are some awful definitions of thought leadership out there.

🔁 Thought leadership = what thought leaders do (ugh!)
🧠 Thought leadership = your smartest content marketing.
🙊 Thought leadership = how people brag about themselves.

If you’re a thought leadership practitioner, then most definitions of thought leadership have been pretty useless.

So, let’s dig into the Four Elements of Thought Leadership.

💡 the Ideas:
— the core insights themselves
— can be summarized in a sentence or two
— when you share an idea, people say “aha! I see the world differently.”
— if you don’t have a strong idea, you don’t have thought leadership.

📚 the Content:
— your stories, data, and examples
— you use content to bring ideas to life, persuade, and convince
— you can customize your content for different audiences
— content needs to be put into a container (an offering)

🎁 the Offerings:
—the many different ways you package your ideas and content
—e.g., whitepaper, podcast, video, training course, speech, etc.
—an offering might be free or you may charge for them
—typically you need many offerings to reach your target audience

📦 the Platform:
—the summary of what the thought leadership is about
—a sentence or two (at most).
—who are these ideas for?
—why should they care about them?
—a “platform” is to an idea as a “personal brand” is to an individual

And you’ll notice that connecting all four elements, is Strategy.

Thought leadership without strategy = noise.

If you want to learn more about this framework (with specific criteria for each Element), then you’re in luck.

I’ve written a whole white paper.

Checkout Bill Sherman’s Linkedin Profile in the Featured Section for the Whitepaper.