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There are many different types of leadership found in companies. This lesson will take a look at thought leadership, define it, and provide examples of it.

What is Thought Leadership?

There are many different types of leadership that companies and individuals use. With the use of technology and the growing of companies in general, every company is looking for ways to differentiate themselves and be the best in their industry.

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This is why there is a need for thought leadership. Thought leadership is being the expert or using an expert in the company in order to be the most innovative in the future. It is used in marketing in order to try to answer the questions of the company’s target audience and provide marketing that will stand out from other companies.

We will take a look at some of the characteristics of thought leadership, provide an example of a company that uses thought leadership, and an example of a thought leader.

Thought Leadership Characteristics

As we discussed in the definition of thought leadership, whether it is an individual or a company that is using thought leadership, it is being an innovator that comes up with new ideas to current challenges. Here are a few characteristics that are seen in thought leadership.

  • Innovation: Thought leaders do not just follow the best practices already set by the industry.

    They set out to change the standards and create even better practices. They set out to make big changes that are innovative and new. For example, think about Mark Zuckerberg creating a platform for college students to be able to communicate and share their lives with each other. He saw something that people wanted and he set out to create it. Companies need to be innovative with their marketing as well.

    They cannot just copy what their competitors are doing and hope that consumers will find them. Companies need to use the same mindset as Zuckerberg in order set them apart from other companies.

  • Passionate: Thought leadership does not happen without passion. The company or leader has to be passionate about what they are doing in order to make it happen. That passion will create followers without which there is no leader or leadership.

    Zuckerberg was extremely passionate about his idea and his company. Companies need to be passionate about their marketing as well in order to attract customers.

  • Reputable: Another characteristic of thought leadership is that the company or leader has to be reputable. In order for people to follow your ideas and thoughts they need to know that you are an expert at what you do.

    The company can become reputable by writing articles or blogs that show that they are an expert in the industry. This will make consumers more likely to trust their ideas and marketing. Zuckerberg has become a reputable source for social media due to his ideas and his actions. He has an initiative to provide people all around the world with internet. He has people supporting and following him on this idea because of his past with Facebook.

    It gives him credibility for people to believe in and follow his ideas.

Elon Musk as a Thought Leader

A real life example of a thought leader is Elon Musk. He has been known as innovator is many different sectors and for coming up with new ideas that no one else has. His initial success as a thought leader came from PayPal. Musk changed the way people could pay by creating PayPal. He is also known for founding SpaceX which is a company that is working on space exploration and colonizing Mars. As you can see Musk does not just go along with what has been done in the past.

He sets out to create his own ideas and in the process he has formed followers. This is why he is considered a thought leader.

Lesson Summary

There are many different types of leadership out there.

Companies want to break away from the norm and set the pace for their industry. Thought leaders are the innovators that break out of the status quo and create their own way of doing things. Thought leaders are innovative, passionate, and reputable. Thought leadership is used especially in marketing when companies want to differentiate themselves.


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