Follow this thought leader’s example, and assert a valuable point of view.

As a follow-up to our last post, let’s peek for a moment inside the thought leadership playbook.

The most successful thought leaders – the ones who effectively sway the marketplace toward their perspective – share several key attributes.

  • Challenging norms. They stick their necks out and have the courage to question industry assumptions and old ways of doing things.
  • Independence.  They serve the long-term challenges of customers, not the short-term interests of sales. It’s not about product promotions and generic messaging.
  • Energy. They’re passionate about the ideas they offer and it shows in everything they say and do.

Here’s an example of a B2B company embodying these qualities with gusto. Donnelly Custom Manufacturing, which has carved out a powerful niche in short-run plastics, continues to reinforce that position through thought leadership.

A Provocative MessageDonnelly Ron K

Donnelly leaders know that delivering value in short run requires a great deal of discipline – not just in how you operate, but in whom you transact with. But they’ve found the typical industry mindset to be at odds with this need. “Take whatever business you can get, wherever you can get it.”

That’s why, in editorials and presentations, President Ron Kirscht addresses the market with a bold message that you don’t need MORE customers, just the RIGHT customers – even if that means having fewer of them. This message makes an impact because it challenges the status quo while also highlighting that Donnelly is more focused on satisfying each customer.

Providing Value

In one of many continuous improvement efforts, Donnelly team members became experts in a lean technique called TWI (Training Within Industry).

Now they’re paying it forward, speaking out and educating others through trade articles, conference presentations and even one-on-one training. Their willingness to invest time and resources to help others reap the efficiency benefits of TWI in turn reinforces the company’s lean reputation.

Inspiration and Dedication

Donnelly’s passion for operational excellence also shines through in the expertise and experience the company shares about Mistake Proofing – a process they developed themselves based on other lean teachings.

Their presentations on this topic challenge participants to think about problems differently and keep implanting improvements. In the process, Donnelly sets itself up as a company that truly cares about bringing answers to the industry.

Unleashing Your Inner Thought Leader

These are just a few ideas. To succeed as a thought leader, you need to think about what you can bring to the conversation – your unique approach to your customers’ most pressing problems.

Be bold. Deal with the big issues, the real issues, the issues that keep your clients up at night. What can you say that will help them … and help them recognize you as a go-to thought leader?