We are now living in disruptive times. Business leaders in your company, your clients and prospects are all worried about one thing: the future. For their company, their career and even for their children.
While leaders in emerging markets remain optimistic, Western leaders fear a rapidly approaching dystopia. Man Bites Dog’s recent research reveals that the majority of large corporate CEOs believe their own company’s past is brighter than its future. And in this dystopian future the mighty will fall: leaders expect 1 in 6 large competitors to fail by 2023.
We have now passed the tipping point where leaders are more worried about non-traditional competitors than long-standing rivals. And the biggest corporate killer is expected to be their own fickle customers.
One CEO described the new leadership paradigm to me as the difference between driving a car (something else that will soon be obsolete) and riding a motorcross bike. Leaders are now offroad and running their companies faster than ever before, so they must point their strategy further ahead while scanning for competitors in their peripheral vision.
This creates a critical challenge for business leaders because human beings are very poor at anticipating the future with any degree of accuracy. Which means visionaries now have unprecedented influence. Clients are looking for experts who can see beyond these limits. In this uncharted territory, there is a clear opportunity for companies to pivot from past precedent to future orientation: becoming the trusted navigator who, rather than fearing the future, embraces change and sees further.
The old tokens of credibility - best practice, tradition and track record - may now work against you by consigning you to the history books. The ability to adapt again and again is now our best predictor of future success. We are entering an era when credibility must be balanced with agility.
This puts us in the business of predicting the future. And thought leadership holds the key.
Man Bites Dog defines thought leadership as: a strategic idea with the purpose of gaining and conveying competitive advantage by sharing value.
Your strategic idea should strike the right balance between telling your clients something valuable and genuinely new, and promoting a problem you solve, connected to your brand, your product and services, and your area of authority.
Thought leadership is not a tactic: an isolated article, a reaction to breaking news or regulatory change. It’s a strategy: holistic corporate thinking should lead thought and lead your marketing activity.
Thought leadership is also certainly not thought followership. In an era when the speed of the innovation cycle means you can no longer differentiate on your products and services, the only battleground you can win on is your distinctive thinking.
Strategic ideas demonstrate your future orientation and reinforce your authority as a navigator - it’s all prospects have to go on that you are the go-to experts.
So how can you harness the power of strategic ideas to win?
There are 5 key considerations, for which IDEAS provides a useful acrostic:
We are living in uncertain times. But you can choose whether to disrupt or be disrupted. You have an opportunity to be the navigator - to see further and share future-oriented ideas that genuinely solve clients’ real challenges.
The future belongs to visionaries and in the ideas economy the biggest thinkers will win. Shouldn’t that be you?
Originally published on British American Business