I often hear CEOs saying that as the market has been so badly hit by the recession, they can’t really afford to take time out to write a book. My response is quite simply, you can’t afford not to! It’s precisely when times get tough that customers start scrutinising their purchases and looking for the best value for their money. In a market that is already competitive, shrinking demand means fewer pounds flowing around, and those pounds will go to the exceptional companies, those that stand out.
I write this because time and time again I see truly inspirational thought leaders lurking in the shadows when they should be up their on their soapbox, demonstrating why they are the leading light in their field.
In a downturned market, executives should be making a big impact by being bold and opiniated in order to stand out in an increasingly competitive environment. Business leaders and executives need to be able to share experiences and knowledge and more importantly be able to share their wisdom and views on key issues within the market if they are to rise above their competition.
Quite simply, if you don’t have have a speaking, writing and publishing strategy, you are not fulfilling your responsibility as leaders. In the current economic climate you need to be bold and opinionated and if not, well you simply shouldnt even bother.
No ghostwriting please!
Customers want to hear the executive’s own beliefs, in his/her own words. This doesn’t mean CEOs should go out and look for a ghostwriter to do the hard work from them though! It’s a common misconception that using a ghostwriter will save a significant amount of time. To achieve a really accurate portrayal of the topic, the executive would need to spend time briefing the writer, then looking at various drafts making comments and amendments and reviewing it again.
With the right plan, structure, techniques and guidance, anyone can write a great book in as little as 40 hours. If an executive is not willing to invest 40 hours in strategic thinking, planning and writing, I would have my doubts about his/her leadership and vision in the first place.
Marketing is not enough!
It is impossible to delegate the critical task of thought leadership to your marketing department. Differentiation can obviously be achieved with marketing, but to get real competitive advantage, a CEO needs to get vocal as well. What we need is REAL thought leadership, which asserts the executive’s views and opinions on important issues and provides a vision that inspires confidence in that company.
Think about the business leaders that stand out in your mind. Chances are, they have been writing, speaking and quoted in the market. Being visible and vocal is the only way to raise your credibility and stand out from the crowd. It goes beyond strategic marketing, this way you get your own voice heard. It shows faith in yourself and your brand and that is very attractive to a customer.
What we need is real thought leadership, which asserts the executive’s views and opinions on important issues and provides a vision that inspires confidence in that company.
There was much said about Barack Obama’s presidential election and what is was about him that made him so likeable to the public. As time had passed, much of that same character is still there, although shades have been influenced by the practical day to day realities of his tenure. But ultimately, it was his openness and willingness to be vulnerable that helped people to relate to him and see him as a trusted leader in way that others had failed to do. He was prepared to be bold and opinionated and ruffle the feathers of others to stand up for what he believed was right.
It is this kind of boldness that will carry others towards their successes, if they are willing to embrace it.