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What is a thought-leadership article?

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Thought-leadership articles are short-form writing that address the needs of your audience by educating them or sharing with them something you know well through your own experience.  They reflect the writer and his or her experience in three ways. They draw on:

  • your deep experience and/or credentials

  • your passion and/or purpose

  • And your unique viewpoint about the subject matter

If you articulate all three of these points for yourself, you’ve gotten close to articulating your thought leadership niche. And if you write from that niche, you’re writing in your story sweet spot (See figure 1). 

Figure 1: Your story sweet spot

Your story sweet spot

Why call it your story sweet spot?

Because the writing that comes from this niche is unique to you. If it reflects two of the points but not all three, then the article is not born of your thought-leadership niche. In that case, the story may not stand up.

Similarly, if a story is not drawn from something which you feel passionate about or something that resonates with your purpose, it, too, will not stand up. 

Let’s say you want to write an article about how creative entrepreneurs can better weather a crisis or how to manage a digital transformation, but you have no subject-matter expertise or personal experience in these areas. Your article will surely end up lacking depth.

Another example: If you write about something in which you have deep experience and knowledge, but you’re no longer passionate about it, or you have no unique viewpoint on the subject, that will also come through. Your audience will hear through the lines that you’ve become bored with the subject.

Finding your thought-leadership stories

To write from your story sweet spot, you must mine your knowledge and ideas to find that unique viewpoint that can really bring your audience forward because it is a creative take or combines ideas in a unique way. 

Ideally, thought-leadership articles are stories about solutions that you care about deeply because you have been there and done that, and you want to spare others the pain and suffering you went through. 

Maybe you know a lot about project management and how to roll out software in an agile way. You know because you’ve done it many, many times, and you’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. This experience will give you a unique perspective for writing about the problems that are a part of software rollouts.

Or perhaps you’re a financial advisor focused on clients who have just received a windfall payment. You know that without the right psychological and emotional support, people who have won lotteries, been paid out large amounts from lawsuits, or inherited wealth may squander their windfall within a few years or a single generation if not supported properly. 

If you are writing thought leadership materials for your own business or own career goals, the aim is to focus on solutions that you know and care a lot about and you can potentially help others with. If you are writing these materials in the service of others, such as your employer, the aim is to focus on solutions that your company can help with.

Don’t forget : Articles written in the thought-leadership style are free of marketing language. This type of writing does have a commercial intent, but your business offering should not be part of your story. 

Keep it separate.

And stick to your story sweet spot.

Want to know more?

There you can download the story 17 Types of Thought-Leadership Articles. 

-Rhea Wessel is the Founder and Head of the Institute for Thought Leadership

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