What does it take to become a thought leader and trusted authority in today’s markets? What positions us as providers of superior guidance? Three things: vision; visibility; and credibility.

Whether one is giving a presentation to a new audience of prospects, initiating a marketing campaign or provisioning sales for a credible customer conversation, these factors all come into play. They set the stage for the ultimate outcome. They influence a prospect’s level of interest, degree of confidence and willingness to commit to change. Let’s consider them one by one:

  • Vision. In an era of blinding uncertainty, people are drawn to those who make sense of the seemingly senseless. They are attracted to those who offer foresight and light the path ahead. While individuals and organizations with vision have always stood out in crowded markets, there is a growing opportunity today. Not only are markets much more competitive, they are more complex, fast-changing and fraught with risk. Those who can help their prospects see through the fog command their attention and establish trust in their eyes.
  • Visibility. To attract an audience, it’s critical to be visible in the marketplace. Some experts have even called this a “visibility premium.” Of course, it’s important to be visible in ways that enhance one’s brand as opposed to tarnishing it. The point is that one must influence the influencers, make appearances in key media and generate positive word-of-mouth in order to be recognized as an important thought leader in the first place. Visibility tends to grow in an expanding virtuous circle. The more visible you are, the more visible you become.
  • Credibility.To build trust and confidence, it’s necessary to demonstrate one’s credibility on a subject. Part of the challenge is articulating opportunities and challenges in truly relevant and compelling ways. Another part lies in demonstrating what impact you have had in the past. Customer success stories — loaded with measurable impact — are particularly valuable in this regard. But much of one’s credibility is established through peer interaction and word of mouth.

As I’ll point out in the next few posts, there are several interesting examples in today’s marketplace that reflect the power and value of these dimensions in a thought leader.