Thought leadership is a powerful PR strategy.
Giving advice is a form of art.
No matter if you’re a leader giving orders, an industry expert giving advice to clients, or a blogger offering insights, there’s more to giving people direction than just telling them what they need to hear.
It’s about giving advice in the spirit of servitude.
And that is what thought leadership is all about.
It’s popular to think that thought leadership is about giving good advice. But giving good advice is only the entrance ticket.
What will transform someone who gives good advice into a thought leader is the willingness and ability to serve.
Why is servitude so important?
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
— Ralph Nader
Thought leadership and existentialism
When it comes to thought leadership as a PR strategy, I often remind myself of the beautiful words of the Danish existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard:
“If one is truly to succeed in leading a person to a specific place, one must first and foremost take care to find him where he is and begin there.
This is the secret in the entire art of helping.
Anyone who cannot do this is himself under a delusion if he thinks he is able to help someone else. In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he — but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands.
If I do not do that, then my greater understanding does not help him at all. If I nevertheless want to assert my greater understanding, then it is because I am vain or proud, then basically instead of benefiting him I really want to be admired by him.
But all true helping begins with a humbling.
The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is a not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness for the time being to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands.”
And this is the real recipe for success for any aspiring thought leader.
You can find people who aspire to lead. And you can find people who can give good advice. But can you find a person who possesses both of these traits — and are prepared to step into the role of the humble servant?
“Don’t worry about being successful but work toward being significant and the success will naturally follow.”
— Oprah Winfrey
For anyone in a position of superiority, be it a leader or an adviser or both, accepting the role of a servant is the true challenge in thought leadership.