Unleashing the power of thought leadership: How executives can influence, inspire, and drive innovation in their industries.

Thought leadership for executives refers to a strategic approach wherein leaders in an organization leverage their expertise, insights, and authority to shape and influence discussions within their industry. By producing and sharing valuable, unique content, these executives aim to establish themselves and their organizations as trusted sources of information and innovation, driving conversations and setting the standards within their respective fields.

It goes beyond marketing products or services; rather, it’s about contributing to the collective knowledge of the industry, providing insights that help others solve problems, and positioning oneself as a go-to expert in the field.

Here’s why thought leadership is important for professionals:

  1. Credibility and trust: By consistently delivering insightful, relevant content, thought leaders earn credibility. Over time, this trust becomes invaluable in building business relationships and enhancing brand reputation.
  2. Increased visibility: Thought leadership can amplify the reach of executives, enabling their ideas to spread wider and their voices to be heard in crowded markets.
  3. Competitive advantage: With thought leadership, executives can distinguish their organizations from the competition, highlighting the unique perspectives and approaches that set them apart.
  4. Influence: Thought leadership allows experts to influence their industry’s trends and conversations, shaping the future of their sector.
  5. Business growth: Over time, thought leadership can lead to increased business opportunities, partnerships, and revenue. When customers see an organization as an industry leader, they’re more likely to trust and invest in its products or services.

Thought leadership is not just about being known, it’s about being known for something that matters – for bringing forward ideas and insights that make a difference in your industry and community. It’s a long-term strategy that requires authenticity, consistency, and a deep understanding of your audience’s needs and challenges.

The 7 key elements to consider in any thought leadership strategy

Building a thought leadership strategy for skillful and experiences professionals is a critical process that can significantly enhance the credibility and visibility of a company or organization. This strategy can help position executives as industry influencers, amplify the company’s message, and promote its vision to a wider audience. When creating a thought leadership strategy, consider the following seven elements:

  1. Identify a unique positioning: Not all thought leadership is created equal. Individuals that dive into thought leadership initiatives should have a unique perspective or expertise that sets them apart from the crowd. It’s important to identify this unique positioning and to focus the thought leadership strategy around it. This could be a distinctive approach to solving problems, innovative ideas, or even a unique personal story.
  2. Understand the audience: Just as with any other form of marketing or communication, understanding your audience is critical. The more you know about who you’re communicating with, the better you can tailor your messages to their needs, interests, and pain points. Research your audience, create audience personas, and continually refine these personas as you learn more about your target audience.
  3. Content creation: Quality content is the bedrock of thought leadership. Without it, there is no vehicle for expressing insights or spreading your message. Content can take many forms: articles, blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, podcasts, videos, or even social media updates. It’s important to create content that is useful, relevant, and engaging, and that demonstrates your expertise and perspective.
  4. Consistency and regularity: Consistency is crucial for maintaining visibility and credibility. Regular publishing can help to keep your audience engaged and remind them of your presence. It also allows you to steadily build a body of work that demonstrates your expertise and commitment to your area of focus.
  5. Leverage multiple channels: Don’t limit your thought leadership to just one channel. Different platforms reach different audiences and provide different opportunities for engagement. You might consider professional networks like LinkedIn, industry publications, traditional media, your own website or blog, or even offline events and speaking engagements.
  6. Measure and refine: Like any strategy, your thought leadership strategy should be data-driven. Use analytics to track your performance, measure your impact, and understand your audience. These insights can inform your strategy and help you to refine your approach over time.
  7. Authenticity: Above all, authenticity is key. Authentic thought leadership is built on genuine expertise and a genuine passion for your subject matter. Authenticity can help to build trust with your audience, enhance your credibility, and make your thought leadership more impactful.

Thought leadership strategy: do’s and dont’s

Putting into motion the 7 points above, although not hard, needs to be carefully thought out and planned.

Here are some examples of best practices, and also types of approaches that should be avoided at all cost.

Element Best Practices What NOT to Do
1. Unique Positioning An executive specializing in supply chain management could position herself as a thought leader on sustainable practices within the industry. She would create content specifically related to reducing waste and improving efficiency in supply chains. Don’t try to be a thought leader in everything. Avoid a generic or broad positioning like “business leadership”. The positioning is too broad and not unique.
2. Understand the Audience Survey your audience, track their behaviors and preferences, create personas, and tailor your content accordingly. Use audience feedback to continually refine your understanding. Don’t make assumptions about your audience without data to back it up, and don’t ignore feedback. Avoid creating content based on what you think your audience wants, without truly understanding their needs and interests.
3. Content Creation Research industry trends and challenges, and provide unique insights and practical solutions through high-quality articles, whitepapers, webinars, etc. Keep the content engaging and actionable. Don’t publish low-quality, self-promotional, or irrelevant content. Avoid “clickbait” titles that do not deliver on their promise in the body of the content.
4. Consistency and Regularity Develop a content calendar and stick to it. For example, if you decide to publish a blog post every Tuesday, make sure a high-quality post is published every Tuesday. Don’t publish sporadically or go long periods without publishing. Also, avoid sacrificing quality for quantity.
5. Leverage Multiple Channels Use a mix of channels – LinkedIn for professional insights, your own blog for in-depth articles, speaking at industry events, etc. Tailor your content to each platform. Don’t use every platform just for the sake of it, or publish the same content on every platform without tailoring it. Avoid platforms that your target audience does not use.
6. Measure and Refine Use analytics to understand what content performs well and why. Look at metrics like engagement, shares, and feedback. Refine your strategy based on these insights. Don’t ignore data or rely solely on vanity metrics (like number of followers). Avoid repeating the same strategies without measuring their effectiveness.
7. Authenticity Speak from your own experiences and expertise. Show your passion and commitment to your field. Be transparent and honest in your communications. Don’t try to present yourself as an expert in a field where you lack experience or knowledge. Avoid making unfounded claims or hiding your motivations (like if a post is sponsored).

Keep it mind that these are just examples and the specifics will depend on the individual executive and their area of expertise. It’s important to tailor your thought leadership strategy to your own unique strengths and the needs of your audience.


In short, a thought leadership strategy for an organization or an individual can bring great value for the associated brand, products and services.

It needs planning and a good process to consistently deliver value to the audiences, but the returns can greatly bypass the efforts needed.

In short:

  1. Pick a nice subject matter
  2. Build your strategy, the processes and find the resources needed to deliver the strategy
  3. Consistently produce and publish content
  4. Measure impact

This type of work is part of our daily lives at Toast, we work on these types of strategies for individuals, but organizations can also aim to position themselves as thought leaders in their industry.

Thought leadership is a great tool when stars are aligned and individuals have the capability to do it. Do not overlook its potential!