What Is Thought Leadership?
As one piece of its expanding ecosystem, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) introduced the ICF Thought Leadership Institute this year as “a global hub of shared knowledge for human development designed to help create and influence the future of coaching.” The expressed mission of ICF Thought Leadership Institute is to showcase how coaching sustainably contributes to prosperity, peace and partnership for people and the planet. TLI’s framework draws inspiration from the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, directly correlating with ICF’s objectives as an organization.
But what is thought leadership, and how can coaches exemplify what it means to be a thought leader?
Thought leaders are masters of their craft. They are informed and trusted sources who provide insight on their areas of expertise. Thought leaders utilize their knowledge, experience, skills and influence to educate others. Within coaching, this includes elevating the understanding of how coaching contributes to societal well-being and sustainability.
The role affords an opportunity to stimulate significant positive impacts among key audiences.
Becoming a thought leader takes time, a strong commitment, and an eagerness to serve in an influential role within a particular industry. The insights of thought leaders usually are trusted because of the qualifications of the individual considered as such. But there are specific ways to prove yourself as a leader in coaching. The most important first step is by showcasing that you have valuable information to share, while simultaneously reflecting the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Establishing yourself as a thought leader requires you to know and understand your target audience. As a coach, that may include other ICF-Credentialed coaches, existing and potential clients, prospective coaches, and others. Utilizing different social media channels is a great way to communicate with these target audiences to understand what they are looking for in terms of insights and perspectives.
Media engagements are another way to demonstrate your expertise and amplify your thought leadership positioning and message. Sharing your content and voice with various outlets such as newspapers, magazines, podcasts and broadcast news stations can provide the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. In doing so, it is beneficial to research which media outlets cover your niche and identify a contact within each outlet you target. For example, if you believe that, a specific podcast’s audience might benefit from your subject matter expertise, make sure that you inform the producer about what information you can share that would be relevant and of value to their listeners. Building recognition among these contacts as a source for commentary and insight, even if coverage does not immediately occur, can further establish your place as a thought leader.
Finally, having clear objectives and goals as a thought leader that reflect ICF’s core values will keep you on track and grounded in your journey as a coaching thought leader. The ICF Thought Leadership Institute is rooted in the goal of advancing the art, science and practice of coaching by creating and contributing to a body of knowledge about the industry. Use that as your foundation.
Connecting with other ICF thought leaders will further strengthen your own skills and provide clarity on the common goals of thought leaders in the coaching industry. The ICF Thought Leadership Institute strives to be a hub of shared knowledge – leverage it!