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The following post is courtesy of Diane Harrison who is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 specializing in alternative assets.

About 7 years ago, I published an article on the importance of thought leadership as an essential business practice for defining value to your clients. Since then, the concept of thought leadership has gained tremendously in importance for the sales and service approach in many businesses, not the least of which is wealth management and financial investments. 

With so much information easily accessed online, there is a continual demand for fresh and informative data that can be digested in a relatively short amount of time. I decided to take a look back at the reasons I gave for incorporating thought leadership as a marketing and sales practice and update them where needed for the progress the industry has made since then. The quotes throughout are from, The Best Business Quotes From Thought Leaders.’

To be a company that exemplifies thought leadership, you need to have an idea engine, a concept forge, AS WELL AS an outward-leaning communication stance combined with a desire to raise the playing field – a capability to not only learn new things, to not only discover them for the first time, but to educate others – selflessly. — Tom Paul

An essential quality of thought leadership requires promotion of an idea immediately followed by a demonstrated acknowledgement of its relevance by others.  True thought leadership embodies a fusion of give and take, a dynamic that must include both the provider of thought leadership with the recipients, who benefit by the process. To lead is to imply following, or there is simply a trailblazer alone on a solo quest.  

Thought leaders seek to pave the way for a group to follow, thereby expanding the knowledge and improving ability of all along the way. To wear the mantle of true thought leadership, one needs to be a teacher, an inspirer, and a collaborator.  Thought leaders both raise the bar on higher learning and assist others in getting over it.

Is it better for your prospects to be told how great you are or discover how great you are? Start practicing discovery based selling. Charles Bernard, Speaker and CEO of Criteria for Success

Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have. John C. Maxwell, Speaker and Author

A second key attribute of thought leadership is the concept of participation. Real learning comes when the student is actively involved in the process of understanding.  It is analogous to the spark of excitement that follows ‘getting’ something new for the first time. Thought leaders inspire, through both idea and action, this process of ‘getting it’ for others, and foster future generations of thought leaders through a fluid system of give and take.

Contrary to popular belief, my experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more. Michael Gerber, Author

A third element of thought leadership requires the regular and dedicated execution of action. To be a true leader, the process must be sustainable and continue to move forward, expand horizons, and deepen understanding. This logically narrows the universe of active thought leaders, as one-timers and short-term contributors fall out of practice. While these individuals might have been considered thought leaders previously, the moniker becomes past tense once their era of contribution also ceases, much as we address ‘former’ heads of state, etc. 

A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator. Peter Thiel, Author and Co-Founder of PayPal

Long-standing thought leaders are rare and revered: for them, thought leadership is a way of life, not a marketing gimmick designed to boost brand awareness.  Executed properly, all thought leaders naturally enjoy a measure of both brand awareness and brand loyalty, but this follows as a by-product of the value they bring to their followers, and is not the foundation of their contributions.

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