TLA 9: Developing an ecosystem
No man is an island and neither are thought leaders. There will always be times when your thought leaders need a little support.
You can help them to manage this by encouraging them to identify and build their own personal thought leadership ecosystem. In biology, an ecosystem is a complex network of interrelated organisms. In thought leadership, it is your stakeholders: the people and groups who are interested in or affected by your thought leadership efforts. These include people within the organisation and beyond. There is more about this subject here.
Within the organisation, thought leaders may find help and support from their managers, their peers, and other colleagues in the same subject area. One of the reasons for having a launch event, you will probably recall, was to help your thought leaders to see themselves as a community. Marketing teams and corporate communications teams can also provide help and support.
Beyond the organisation, the thought leadership ecosystem includes both customers and competitors. It also includes other thought leaders, both from rival companies and academia or thinktanks. These groups may be crucial in helping to sustain thought leadership, because they form a community around a particular topic.
By helping your thought leaders to identify their personal ecosystem, you are enabling them to see themselves as part of a bigger community. Thought leadership is all about connections and relationships, after all—and that does not mean simply with your customers.