Kick Start Your Internal Thought Leaders
If you have passionate, articulate people on your team who have great ideas they want to share, let them! Champion their cause to be a thought leader in and for your organisation.
Most leaders don’t proactively think about giving their team members a voice, so you’ll stand out if you do.
1. Give them a voice
Start by encouraging them to contribute to your organisation’s internal newsletter, the external quarterly magazine, the internal blog on the intranet, or the external blog on your Web site.
Some of these publications might be tightly controlled, so you might have to work hard to persuade their managers to accept other contributions, let alone contributions from “junior” people. But it’s worth the effort, not only for your team members, but also for the organisation as a whole.
Don’t limit your thinking to the written word. They could present (or co-present) at meetings, deliver training courses, publish videos, and present webinars.
2. Build their authority
Some team members will be so keen about speaking up that they want to become an authority in their own right. Give them a platform of their own, beyond just being a contributor to a shared platform. The focus shifts from “This month’s newsletter has an article by Shamini about our supply chain process” to “Shamini is an authority on supply chain management, and we’re proud to host her blog on our Web site”.
This might take even more effort to get approved, but again it’s worth it. Having a reputation as an organisation that fosters thought leadership is good for everybody.
3. Support their existing platforms
Some team members will already have a strong online presence. If that is aligned with your team or organisation, help them develop it further.
For example, Gillian might be passionate about women in leadership, and already has a blog, Facebook page, and YouTube channel about that topic. Any leader in any organisation can support this, especially if you work in a male-dominated industry.
Look for ways to support her – for example, giving her time to work on this passion, finding conferences and events for her to attend (or present at), showcasing some of her work in your internal publications, and so on.
Be careful not to “take over” her platform. You can invite her to contribute to internal publications, but don’t force her to bring everything under the organisation’s umbrella. If she’s passionate enough to have built a following, she’s passionate about it being hers. Support her in continuing to build her expertise and authority, and you will benefit anyway.
Which of these ideas can you use?
If your team is busy and fighting to keep to tight deadlines, you might wonder how you can spare the time for your team members to also be writing, blogging, or recording videos. But don’t think of this as taking time away from their other work; think of it as adding energy and motivation. These team members are passionate and motivated to share their ideas, and that passion and motivation flows over into their other work as well.
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