In my corporate days, I found that the best leaders had their finger on the pulse of the business and were cognitively flexible, easily adjusting their thinking from past to present — and a fast changing business landscape –with both strength and grace. They had a flair for dealing with all kinds of people up and down the management ladder, easily motivating their workforce and effectively communicating the most difficult news. All of this still reigns true today, but what’s different is that leaders are expected and encouraged to promote their personal leadership style on platforms like LinkedIn and have their thoughts and opinions featured on news platforms that matter to key targets. This not only benefits the leader (and can help them be seen as promotable) but is also highly beneficial to their employer or brand because of the credibility and brand recognition it creates.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that 2024 will be another year of immense change. The leaders who stand out will be actively demonstrating these leadership traits.
🟢Purposeful Leadership: Telling your company story, highlighting how you make business decisions with a higher purpose in mind, positions the organization as a forward thinking, caring company. Through LinkedIn posts and media mentions, leaders explain how their mission extends beyond a P&L spreadsheet. It can be a financial donation, but I find that the most impactful initiatives are multi-dimensional and actually involve the company and its employees. One of my clients gives back by mentoring local high school students, running a contest to promote entrepreneurialism, and then offering one winner a summer internship. Another is actively involved in the community. Financial sponsorships, mentoring, environmental activism, and employee wellness programs are powerful reputation builders. Aligning initiatives with corporate values is key in building credibility and industry leadership. Sharing one’s insights as a leader about such initiatives is a critical factor in attracting and retaining talent and establishing a company as an evolved organization.
🟢Digital Transformation, Data Focus, and Technology Fluency: The most respected and influential leaders are using their thought leadership to show how they are embracing digital transformation – adding systems and processes that will help them to retain their market position. They are fluent enough to talk about by using data on how the latest technology, especially artificial Intelligence (AI) and its business applications, are improving their internal processes and outputs. I’m most attracted to thought leadership articles where the leader is transparent and shares the ups and downs of how they are experimenting with AI and customizing programs (there are more than 11,000 to address their business needs). These demonstrate innovation, agility, and transparency – the willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. That’s the kind of leader I want to follow on LinkedIn and read their content elsewhere – one who’s immersed in her/his business and has valuable takeaways I can apply to my business.
🟢Stakeholder Communication Mastery (Virtual and In Person):You can feel their presence when they walk into a room-both in person and virtual. A strong leader who is intelligent and charismatic will come across in a trustworthy way. One of my clients oversees a ginormous international field team and has leveraged LinkedIn to make her the 3rd most followed leader in her Fortune 50 company. She engaged me to start a thought leadership initiative on LinkedIn specifically to establish her leadership within the organization – she was flying under the radar- AND to bring her disparate team together virtually.
The results have been stellar with a 100% uptick in her LinkedIn following and people from across her team connecting and sharing their thoughts and insights on business-related topics, as well as on mental health, one of her content pillars.
🟢Authenticity in Thought Leadership: Respected thought leaders are genuine. They know how to demonstrate authenticity in the company voice in order to connect with stakeholders. Showing the real person behind the name by sharing experiences or unique perspectives, their messaging resonates with target audiences. These leaders recognize that giving a glimpse into the human element makes communication so much more interesting and memorable. I wrote about authenticity in this month’s blog.
How are you turning your leadership into something more impactful and influential?