Career and Jobs

How To Stop Committing The Most Common Sins Of Thought Leadership

We all have favorite business leaders we regularly follow for their expertise. We glean value from their insights and perspective and have come to know, like, and trust them from the knowledge they share. And because they do this regularly, we look to them as an emotionally intelligent guideposts who strive to serve others by communicating the lessons they’ve learned in an engaging and compelling way.

Their thought leadership isn’t accidental; they’re communicating with intention. They also understand a simple truth: sharing your wisdom doesn’t diminish your impact; it amplifies it. But what and how you convey that wisdom matters, and avoiding common pitfalls can help any leader elevate their personal brand and thought leadership status.

Here’s a breakdown of the seven thought leadership missteps:

1. You only share the wins

Nothing is a bigger turnoff than someone who is continuously boasting. People respond to those who are genuine, even if it means admitting when you’ve made a mistake. Being vulnerable and sharing the ups and downs of your business life helps you better connect with others. Your insights show your audience how you’ll avoid repeating the same mistake, what you’ve learned in the process, or simply that you’re an imperfect human, just like them. Remember, aim for progress, not perfection.

2. You push your product or service

Despite what you see on social media, don’t make the mistake of using your platform for blatant self-promotion. Instead, provide value by serving, not selling. Focus on sharing real-world business experiences and leadership lessons learned. In doing so, you’ll broaden and strengthen your network, without doing any “promotion” whatsoever.

3. You try to cover too much ground

You may have multiple interests, but you’ll confuse your audience when you comment on too many disparate things. In the thought leadership game, it’s best to stick to those few areas where you are expert and what you want to have others associate with you. This discipline allows you to go deeper and stay within your wheelhouse, which will help your audience see you as the go-to person in your arena.

4. You never get to the point

When sharing your insights, it can be tempting to include every detail and nuance, but you’ll lose your audience if you drone on. Meandering signals that you’re unorganized and unsure. Instead, let clarity and focus guide you, eliminate extraneous material, and keep to one brief, compelling message that’s easily absorbed and retained.

5. You share haphazardly or infrequently

Sharing your thoughts is great, but not if you only do it occasionally. For the most significant impact, get into the habit of regularly and consistently publishing your wisdom. As your network gets used to seeing your posts, they’ll come to look forward to—and trust—your insights and observations.

6. You post and ghost

Merely posting isn’t enough. Remember that in sharing your wisdom, the best possible outcomes are to start conversations and build relationships. Encourage both by engaging with those who choose to like, comment, and share your posts, and you’ll forge better connections.

7. Your’e not telling a consistent career story

One of the happy byproducts of thought leadership is that people will want to learn more about you. In the professional world, this typically happens when they click back to your LinkedIn profile. If you haven’t updated it recently, or the career story it tells is incomplete or old, it will immediately send up a red flag. Take the time to create a cohesive, up-to-date, relevant, and engaging presence that aligns with your intended messaging and supports your positioning as a trusted thought leader. Because once you have your story, it changes everything, including how others perceive, pay, and promote you.

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