Thought leadership has long been identified with the artifacts it produces — the book, the whitepaper, the TEDx talk, the article, etc.
I think that’s partly because people struggle to articulate what a thought leadership strategy is (or what it looks like).
And so, it’s easy to focus on creating more artifacts.
📚 Let’s write another book, whitepaper, etc.!
🎙 Let’s speak at another conference!
💻 Let’s host another webinar!
🐦 Let’s tweet more often!
But these are all activities.
They’re not thought leadership.
Here’s the trap.
At best, each of those activities are empty containers — places that you can pour your thought leadership insights into.
Imagine what would happen if Amazon thought its purpose was to ship boxes 📦 to every house in the US.
And they set out to maximize the # of boxes shipped.
It wouldn’t matter if:
❌ many of the boxes were empty.
🐱🐉 some of the boxes had weird, random stuff in it
🎮 very few boxes contained what people actually ordered.
They just set a stretch goal to achieve the most # of boxes shipped.
Our hypothetical Amazon employees would be incented to “ship more boxes no matter what!”
Sounds insane, right?
Without a strategy, you tend to focus on creating more artifacts of thought leadership.
Rather than focus on the practice of thought leadership.
📦 Are you focused on producing the artifacts of thought leadership? (Shipping more stuff — whatever it is!)
💡 Or are you focusing on the practice of thought leadership?
Ask yourself, “why am I creating this [asset]”? If you can’t answer that question, you may have fallen into the asset-production trap.
📦 You may be shipping empty boxes.
💡 And pretending you’re delivering thought leadership.