Clarity, Consistency, and Community: The 3 Cs of thought leadership

People tend to make thought leadership more complicated than it needs to be. While it can feel like it takes a lot of components to build successful thought leadership, it mostly comes down to three. 

In our experience, all you need to have a greater impact and gain a strategic advantage with your thought leadership is clarity, consistency, and community. Because we love wordsmithing, we refer to them as the 3 Cs. 

Clarity

Clarity is absolutely key when it comes to kicking off your thought leadership practice. It means being clear on;

  • What you stand for,
  • What you’re the expert in,
  • What your ideas are,
  • How you can help your audience, and
  • What you want thought leadership to do for you (as well as for society as a whole).

By establishing clarity in these areas right from the offset, you’ll have the opportunity to get better cut through with your audience – as well as with your own thinking. Clarity helps you both make sure that you are staying on track to have the impact that you want, as well as helping people immediately understand what you’re about. If they can easily interpret how you can help them and the impact you have, it’ll get them excited about your ideas and your work. 

Consistency

Thought leadership is a practice. We often equate it to yoga, or any kind of exercise. It’s not something you can do once and expect immediate results. You can’t be considered a thought leader after one post or speaking gig!

Like exercise, thought leadership is something you need to do regularly in order to keep those muscles going. We mean that both in terms of thinking (we recommend dedicating regular time to improving your ideas), and in how you show up and share those ideas. 

It’s all well and good posting on LinkedIn once every month. But in reality, you’re not going to have an impact or create real interest if that’s all you’re doing. To start conversations and get people engaging with your ideas, you’ll need to consistently show up at least every week and possibly every day (or close to), in more than one place. Thought leadership isn’t built on one channel alone. What combination of written content, speaking gigs, videos, webinars, whitepapers, books, and social media are you using?

Community 

We love working with people who are hell bent on change. The people who can see how to make something better, and want to go after it. But it’s a fact of life that no one can achieve change alone. We are not meant to try and achieve things by ourselves when we can get more effective results working together. 

When it comes to thought leadership, community is vital. Your community are the people who you can bounce ideas around with and the trusted advisors who will give you feedback on those ideas to make them better. They are the people who want to hear what you say at speaking gigs or on social media, or the paying clients who are so energised by your ideas they are willing to pay for more. 

Regardless of what form your community takes, it’s really important for you to properly grow your thought leadership practice with people around you. In our experience of helping emerging thought leaders, no one can build effective thought leadership alone (for more on this, check out our blog about thought leadership as a team sport).

Taking the 3 Cs a step further

Speaking of community – when Verity shared these 3 Cs with her LinkedIn community, she got some interesting feedback and alternative perspectives from her friends and advisors. A few people suggested extra Cs that are important to consider when building thought leadership. 

Concept and content are the ideas that you are sharing and getting across to your audience. Having a clear and concise concept is crucial in order to be easily understood. If your ideas are muddled and aren’t thought through effectively, then they aren’t going to provide value for people or help them do their own work better. 

Another C which is important to consider is creativity – because to build thought leadership, you have to say something new. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got to come out with the next big idea, but it does mean bringing your own perspective and a new lens to something. Creativity is what moves thinking along… what makes thinking better. By embedding creativity into your thought leadership, your ideas will be stronger, attention-grabbing, and have the sort of impact you want. 

Whatever industry you operate in, and whatever change you want to make through thought leadership, doing so with the 3 Cs in mind will mean your thinking and communication are strong and successful. Having clarity about your positioning and ideas, consistency in the way you communicate them and connect with your audience, and a supportive and empowering community around you will ensure you have the building blocks for the long-haul.