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Thought Leadership: Bringing the human back into business

PART 2: 5 essential elements of an effective thought leadership programme

In the last part of my blog, I explored why thought leadership is the bedrock of all successful businesses and shared the ultimate example of a ‘thought leader’ — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

What I didn’t reveal is what a complex, long-term and often challenging thought leadership can be. It does not happen overnight and it is shifting, changing endeavour because it must constantly evolve to current trends and topics in the client’s sector, in the region or even on a global level. Real thought leadership is an ongoing calendar that never ends, but there are five key constants that I would like to share with you:

  1. Embrace all platforms: The first constant is the easiest because it simply involves enhancing your client’s presence across all relevant platforms. Print coverage can only go so far; real amplification takes place online.
  1. Illuminate the bigger picture: True thought leaders can offer an amazing bird’s eye view of their industry, simplifying complex matters with their natural grasp of the subject. This involves remaining up to date with all news and trends on a daily basis without fail.
  1. Share expertise: Jealously hoarding expertise is the opposite of what thought leaders do. Clients are sometimes reluctant to share their insider tips but nothing is more effective for building an audience of loyal and engaged followers who value and depend on their advice.
  1. Be proactive: Thought leadership is a daily practice and relies on engagement — initiating online conversations, sharing opinions and comments and offering fresh perspectives on the news. To be a leader you must initiate and participate proactively in the conversation. 
  1. Focus on impact not business: Driving sales and boosting investment may be eventual outcomes of thought leadership, but they are not the main goals. Instead, focus on contributing to the greater good, inspiring others and positively impacting people’s lives.

If you have another look at His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, you will find that all of these elements are working in harmony to share his vision with the world.  Inspired by his example, I believe that above all, the question should not be ‘what can thought leadership do for me’, but instead:

‘What can my thought leadership do for others?’

Tariq Al Sharabi is Managing Director at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations. An independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai and offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA. |www.cbpr.me