Why Thought Leadership is More Than a Buzzword
In recent years, the term“thought leadership” has become a buzzword – one that is tossed around loosely at times. But we may or may not know exactly what it means.
This begs the question: What exactly IS thought leadership, and what do we mean when we talk about a person, firm, organization being a thought leader?
When I was in law school, my first semester civil procedure professor (one of the top civil litigators in the State of North Carolina) told us that as lawyers, we needed to recognize that people would regularly approach us to seek our opinions – and not just about the law. People would ask us about our opinions on current events. On the cultural and political climates in which we live. On what is going on in our communities, states, country, and world.
There is a reason for this. Attorneys are charged with an important task: maintaining the well-being and overall good of society. When we work together, we can do a lot to not only uphold the existing laws but also to be change agents within the law, whether we are working in judicial chambers, lobbying, or litigating.
Because we are charged with such a critical task, we face steep responsibilities. Chief among them is staying closely informed about what is going on in the world and being able to articulate a coherent, compelling, educated response when we are called upon to opine.
In this vein, thought leadership is our way of exhibiting our knowledge and authority, our handle on these important matters.
When we hold ourselves out as thought leaders, we show that we are not just people who go to work from 9-5 and then forget about it all after that. As thought leaders, we demonstrate that we’ve chosen this profession because, at its core, it is a service – a professional calling – and we really care. We care enough to stay informed on the issues that impact our clients, and we care enough to hold ourselves out as trusted authorities on a variety of important issues.
Being a thought leader means leading the charge on not only becoming informed but sharing our knowledge and encouraging people to become similarly informed. As such, thought leadership is much more than just a buzzword: It is truly a way of living, working, and interacting with others as competent, trustworthy professionals.