Passion: The key ingredient in great thought leadership?
Originally published by Rachel Ainsworth, Head of Thought Leadership Strategies and Solutions at Source Global Research
Passion. It’s an overused word. People are passionate about fashion, beauty, and cocktails. The sporty-minded are passionate about running, soccer, or golf. Interviewees are passionate about technology, about making a difference, about having an impact. I’m not keen to add my voice to this noise. And yet, passion is the word that best summarizes the attitudes of the people I have been interviewing this past week.
We’re carrying out research for our upcoming report on what it takes to create high-quality thought leadership. We took as our starting point thought leadership that we’ve featured on our White Space home page – thought leadership that scores highly against our quality criteria and stands out as a great example of what is possible. A representative from the team that created each piece has completed a survey and is speaking to me about the process of creating that content. We at Source set out with some clear hypotheses about what would we see across these publications – for example, that before any real work commenced, serious thought went into the audience, competitor activity, and how this new report could add value. However, what never crossed our minds was the attitude of the project leader. One dictionary describes passion as “an extreme interest in.” What links all of our interviewees is an extreme interest in the topic they explored, whether that be developing leaders in healthcare, optimizing the customer experience, getting more girls into coding, or creating opportunities for young workers.
But an extreme interest in the topic is not enough. What I also heard in these interviews was an extreme interest in pushing the boundaries of what is known, and in influencing others. One report could have been written using examples from just one country, but that wasn’t enough for the person I spoke to – he wanted to explore best practice from around the globe. Another report could have been written without focus groups, but the person I spoke with was more ambitious – she wanted to know that the survey she created would touch upon what really mattered and to have stories to engage her audience.
Without this passion, it’s all too easy to churn out a “me-too” report that is unlikely to change anyone’s thinking. With this passion, authors can do what it takes to create influential content. Are you as passionate as our interviewees about your next piece of content? Do you have an extreme interest in the topic, and in influencing others with new insights?