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How Personal Core Values Affect Thought Leadership: 5 Ways

By March 8, 2024No Comments

If you want to make an impact and develop trust with key targets, cultivating your thought leadership – your thoughts and opinions in writing or the spoken word –  is the way to go. In my three decades in public relations and counseling C-suite executives, I’ve found that the most influential leaders express themselves extremely well. They are self-aware, can “read the room” and maintain a consistent behavior and attitude. As a result, people understand that “what they see and hear is what they get.” 

All of this leads back to personal core values, the foundation of all thought leadership content. These are the characteristics that form the core of one’s being and influence how leaders communicate, engage with others, and establish their organizational/industry leadership. Examples of personal core values include integrity, genuineness, passion, trustworthiness, empathy, responsibility, innovation and collaboration – all traits  that have formed who you are as a person and as a leader.  

There are five ways that personal core values factor into effective thought leadership: 

Purpose and Inspiration: Personal core values are often reflective of a leader’s purpose and meaning in life. I once worked with a leader who had a very strong sense of ethics. His purpose was to be “a good person” and treat people right. He was a strong advocate for employee well-being, and that was reflected in his thought leadership content. Simply by the way he carried and expressed himself, others could clearly see the satisfaction he got from his job, which motivated others to act, as well as seek out their own purpose. 

Genuineness: The ability to express yourself in a tone and use language that aligns with your personality and actions speaks volumes. Leaders who are genuine make eye contact and their body language is relaxed, not formal. This reminds me of someone I worked for years ago – every time she’d meet a new person, she would warmly put her hand on the other person’s shoulder while simultaneously shaking their hand. This trait makes audiences see you in a certain way and builds trust, credibility, and attention over time. Genuineness is a magnet that will draw people to you as a leader – they’ll want to read your thoughts and opinions, and will perceive you as a role model. 

Ethical Behavior: When leaders say or write about their perspectives and opinions, they are demonstrating their grasp of ethical behavior and how they contribute to the greater good. This includes their case for making decisions and the results they achieve, how they foster relationships with team members and peers, and how they work with strategic partners and the industry at large, as well as the community in which they operate.

Passion: Leaders who have a real passion for what they do can speak and write about it from the heart. They are naturally eager to share ideas, provide information, and improve things for their teams and outside community. As a result, they are able to connect with audiences on a deeper, emotional level, building trust and credibility. Passionate leaders use phrases such as “I truly believe” and “I understand” and deliver their remarks with emotion. 

Empathy: One of the companies I do work for has a CEO who is always seen with team members in a way that communicates, “We’re all in this together.” He has a sense of humor and fun, and can be seen participating in a lot of group activities. This demonstrates true empathy and forms a connection with others. He backs this image up with both written and spoken language that specifically addresses the needs of key targets and how he considers himself one with the team. This not only puts him in a positive light, but also makes him more approachable. Team members are comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas about the business, which has fostered many innovations. 

For more thought leadership tips, read my blog Thought Leadership Blunders: 4 Errors to Avoid

Julie Livingston

Author Julie Livingston

Julie Livingston is president/founder of WantLeverage Communications

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