By SCOTT STEIN
Everyone knows that it is thought leaders who lead their industry by creating new opportunities to give themselves the competitive advantage.
So, what are the changes needed to give you the edge? Here are seven critical trends you need to adapt to that show how thought leadership is imperative to succeeding.
Information in the hands of all
In the past, information was held and controlled by the few. Now with the Internet of Things and social media platforms, information is in the hands of many (even if it is fake news!).
It takes something special to get through the background noise of mass digital communication. So how do you do it?
You need to position yourself as the thought leader – by providing unique insights that are valuable to others, and have the ability to capture and share these insights with others.
The business world has changed
There has always been change in business, however never before has the business world shifted this quickly from one trend to the next. Thought leadership offers an evolved way of thinking and acting.
By staying on the leading edge of new trends and insights, this allows you to be more flexible in both your thinking and your ability to mobilise your people in a new direction in less time.
Shift in focus by generational bands
We have an ageing and independent workforce of experienced staff who in the past would have retired to enjoy their ‘golden years’.
Not anymore. This coupled with the younger generation that is wired into digital and social media more than any other generation can create a quagmire of issues in how these generations relate.
These generational shifts require new forms of thinking and new forms of thought leadership to identify new trends for younger generations of consumers as well as leverage and harness this new talent to create faster internal processes.
Marketing has changed forever!
Going back as little as 25 years ago, television was the primary form of mass marketing. Now, traditional marketing has been pushed on its head. Even the top Marketing experts can’t provide the data of what specific marketing is working.
What hasn’t changed? People trust the brands that have a solid reputation.
By being viewed as a thought leader, your business has a stronger reputation that influences candidates, suppliers, customers and industry commentators on the way your business operates, which everyone knows is the strongest form of marketing – word of mouth and referral.
What we know is all we know—and it is no longer enough
A sustainable competitive advantage is still considered to be the holy grail of business success. The challenge is that the concepts and approaches that were used in the past are no longer working—just ask any taxi company CEO who has seen what Uber has done to their industry.
For you to get in front of the speed of change and demand for innovation, you will need to be more agile and responsive than in the past.
By harnessing the thought leadership across your business, you will develop skill sets and a process that are designed to invent, discover, innovate and create ideas, so you are the ones that are creating the leading-edge approach in your industry.
Shortened spans of attention
With everyone plugged in 24/7, it is getting more and more difficult to capture customer (and staff) attention. Both Facebook and Twitter have conditioned us to live in a society that is full of short bursts of activity and communication that arrive in a compact timeframe.
Unless you are regularly positioning yourself and your ideas in an engaging way, people will not listen.
People listen – and follow – what thought leaders are saying because they have the respect for their knowledge and insight. To rise up above the noise, you need to be the thought leader.
Increased need to innovate and differentiate
Many businesses fall into the trap of inadvertently settling into a pattern of habitual thinking. These are often previous ways that were successful, however may not suit the new changing environment.
We can no longer follow the crowd and jump in based on duplicating what competitors are doing. True thought leadership is about looking for new ways of doing things and having the ability to capture, package and communicate this differentiation to the market.
More than ever, you need to make thought leadership an imperative to fast-track your performance and gain a competitive edge in today’s world.
Scott Stein is a leadership pathfinder who has helped thousands of leaders to implement fast-track strategies that improve results. He is the author of Leadership Hacks: Clever Shortcuts to Boost Your Impact and Results (Wiley) and The Order: Doing The Right Things At The Right Time In The Right Way. To connect with him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.