Is is time to redefine ‘thought leadership’ content?

29/Aug/2015 · 1 MINS READ

I recently read an article entitled Ghostwriting Thought Leadership Content Doesn’t Work. The argument posed was that business leaders are contributing less and less to their personal brand and that ghostwritten thought-leadership articles lack experience and credibility.

I think the inherent problem here is how we’re defining both ‘thought leadership’ and ‘ghostwriting’.

If by thought-leadership we mean: ‘the creation of original ideas worthy of following (from the mind an industry expert)’, then of course, outsourcing this task is going to be a challenge.

However, let’s discuss the role of a ghostwriter…

It isn’t their task to string a few coherent sentences around a miscellaneous header. It is their task to draw out all the information they can from their subject (aka – the thought leader) and structure this original information in a way that makes sense to the end user.

Note the difference – they are structuring original ideas not creating them.

The confusion comes from misinterpreting what thought leadership is and the role of a ghostwriter in this process.

Thought leadership:

If your content calendar has the following: ‘3 x though leadership articles’ as if they’re items on a shopping list then you’re probably not producing thought-leadership quality content.

Thought leadership isn’t:

  • Content for content’s sake
  • A second thought on ‘something interesting’ in your industry
  • The production of any ‘on brand’ or ‘relevant’ articles


Thought leadership is:

  • The creation of original ideas worthy of following.
  • New and unique
  • Daring and thought-provoking
  • Not always correct!


So, while I agree that thought leadership content can’t come from the mind of a ghostwriter, that shouldn’t be an expectation in the first place. The ghostwriter is the person who enables these ideas to be demonstrated in a cohesive and engaging manner, not the person who creates them.

Put it this way – many autobiographies are ghostwritten but the ghostwriter doesn’t make up the events of the person’s life!