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How to Become a Thought Leader | Build Trust With Your Words And Actions

Mar 16, 2024 Beth Monaghan

Trust is at stake. 

Elon Musk recently tweeted, “Trust nothing. Not even nothing.” As political battles present alternate takes on facts and truth, there is an appetite for reality.

Who do people trust? As it turns out, their employers and business leaders. 

Thought leadership is perhaps the most critical part of your communications program right now — both internally and externally. It’s an opportunity to lead. 

Being a thought leader requires trust. So, how do you build it? You must be intentional and consistent with words and actions because trust is the glue that holds communities together — online and offline. And it only takes one tweet to lose it. Here’s what else we recommend: 

Determine your platform

True thought leaders communicate a clear vision for how things must change. What types of misinformation or misunderstandings exist? And how do they relate to your employees, customers, partners and other important audiences (as well as your business goals)? Anchor your point of view around a common issue impacting your community where you have relevant expertise to offer.  

Lead with your values

And know that they only mean something when you stick by them when things get hard. You don’t have to take flight directly into the winds of partisan political issues to be a source of truth, but you can’t ignore the weather. Being honest about what’s happening in the world and how it affects your people and your customers matters. 

Keep good company

Impulsive retweets can be dangerous, and so can external data that seems too good to be true. Triple-check your sources, and know their motivations. The bar is higher now

Be authentic

Audiences want the real you. All of your business decisions and communications should be authentic, and that includes choosing your influencer partnerships wisely. Otherwise, it can damage your brand and revenue potential

Be aware and take action (when it makes sense)

What are the social and geopolitical issues that matter to your employees and key stakeholders? When leaders choose to speak out to support issues affecting their communities — and resist the pull of criticism and blame — we build bridges to change. In fact, 68% of people see an opportunity for brands to “strengthen the social fabric” by celebrating and communicating our common interests. 

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