Deciding to be an entrepreneur, developing a robust business plan, and setting up your start-up can be an uphill task. As an entrepreneur, it can take up all your time, effort, energy, and finances. With time and effort, though, you gain experience and expertise. Your business is settled and a piece of smooth-functioning machinery, freeing you to look at the bigger picture as a successful business leaders. You now start to look at industry benchmarks and consider innovation and technology that can transform the way your own business and the industry as a whole function. You connect with peers, industry experts, and young professionals and are part of a great network. What can you now do to grow your brand and business simultaneously? Thought leadership will help you do this and take your business to the next level.
What is thought leadership?
A thought leader is someone who has gained considerable expertise in the industry and is now considered an influencer due to their unique perspective and new ideas they bring to solve traditional challenges faced by businesses in the field. A thought leader listens to and welcomes new ideas, interacts and engages with stakeholders regularly, and uses their position to think about the greater good. This can include the betterment and growth of the industry, economy, and society. Let us see how thought leadership can help you bring more focus and visibility to your business.
Transformational Leadership – Over the past decade, we have witnessed the evolution of technology and innovation at an unprecedented speed. Most industries and sectors of the economy are leveraging such developments, and transformation is now the new buzzword. Your expertise and guidance in helping businesses adopt digital transformations is the key to establishing you as a thought leader. This also brings greater interest in the success your business enterprise or organisation has found through transformative processes.
Let us take the example of Sanjiv Bajaj, the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv, one of the country’s largest NBFCs. Sanjiv Bajaj led the digital transformation of Bajaj Finserv at a time when most banks and NBFCs were reluctant to adopt tech tools. By adopting a robust approach to Fintech and transforming the business model, Bajaj Finserv products became accessible to millions in rural India and smaller towns through their smartphones and computers. Sanjiv Bajaj led the organisation’s digital transformation, providing the company’s insurance, loan, and investment offerings to millions of customers through a secure mobile application and web platform. This impactful transformation established Bajaj Finserv as a market leader with a customer base of about 62 million. It also grew Sanjiv Bajaj’s personal reputation as one of the famous visionary leaders and go-to authorities in fintech transformative models.
Digital presence and engagement – Communication and engagement are core components of a thought leadership strategy. How do they help your brand and business, though? Social media has made the world a small and connected place. It has also made it possible for enterprises and company leaders from across the globe to share their views and engage with stakeholders and customers at all times. Social media’s visibility and transparency is the key to establishing you as an industry thought leader. As a natural corollary, it also puts your company in the spotlight.
Anand Mahindra, the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, was instrumental in taking the conglomerate to tremendous success and growth than ever before. As of January 2023, the group is now worth USD 19 billion. Through his leadership and success through the decades have always been in the news, Anand Mahindra established himself as a thought leader by making his social media presence a significant one. Industry leaders and professionals now look forward to hearing his opinions on all socio-economic matters.
Perspective and guidance – As a thought leader, young professionals and entrepreneurs always look towards you for guidance and unique perspectives. This reflects not only on your work experience and professional ethics but also on the organisation you founded or worked for and helped grow.
Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys and a long-term business leader, is an excellent example of how thought leadership can bring a fresh perspective to the industry and visibility to the organisation. His books Rebooting India and The Art of Bitfulness are much sought after by young professionals.
Being a thought leader is about transcending business interests, addressing larger challenges, and finding industry solutions. In the process, however, a great deal of success and visibility can be leveraged by your business as well.
Conclusion – As a thought leader, you can establish your views, opinions, expertise, and influence. While the goal is to look beyond your organisation and work to bring practical but innovative solutions that can help the industry and economy grow, the visibility and success your business will gain in the process are undeniable. Bringing your experience in transformational models, offering unique perspectives and solutions, and engaging industry professionals and experts should be part of your thought leadership strategy.