10 Traits of Successful Thought-Leading Organizations

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Christopher G. Fox

Under the right circumstances, an organization’s thought leadership has impact beyond the sum of its parts. For example, McKinsey and Deutsche Bank have built up their positioning as industry thought leaders above and beyond individual thought leaders and pieces of thought leadership content.

To achieve thought leadership at the organizational level takes some work. But there’s good news. Much of this work does not require a huge outlay of capital or high levels of effort. Instead, it requires simply stopping dysfunctional processes and changing mindsets.

Here’s what thought-leading organizations do to stay ahead of the pack:

  • They see themselves as publishers with a focus on new insights and compelling stories.
  • They use brand standards judiciously so people can still sound like human beings speaking in their own voices.
  • They coach and nurture thought leaders from rising stars to the most seasoned senior executives.
  • They prioritize collaboration across functions, lines of business, and with other industry stakeholders.
  • They design marketing and communications functions to enable thought leaders to succeed rather than to react and prevent.
  • They establish clear governance for all decisions related to who and what gets published.
  • They strip out unnecessary bureaucracy by removing people and processes from the mix unless they add meaningful value to the end result.
  • They get employees excited about amplifying thought leadership by educating, advocating, and providing helpful mechanisms for sharing.
  • They commit to the big picture of what matters to their industry and what furthers the conversation.
  • They believe that better matters, constantly developing thinking, products, and services that improve their industry and the world.

On a scale from “not at all” to “absolutely,” how well does your organization model these ten traits for effectiveness?

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