Keys to Being an Effective Thought Leader in the Clean Energy Sector
Following a string of successes over the last few years, the clean energy landscape looks extremely bright. Last December in Paris, 196 countries, working with major corporations, agreed to a historic deal to address the challenges of climate disruption by limiting carbon pollution to 2 degrees C or less.
Congress also recently passed a five-year extension of both the wind Production Tax Credit and the solar Investment Tax Credit, which will create a reliable and predictable market environment that encourages growth and investment.
But recent events demonstrate the continuing need for effective thought leadership in the clean energy sector.
The United States Supreme Court recently issued an unprecedented stay of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, while regulatory commissions in states across the country are attempting to roll back net metering and rooftop solar. At the same time, nearly 40 percent of Americans are “not too worried or not worried at all” about climate disruption.
According to Garth Neuffer, Tigercomm’s Senior Communications Counselor, effective thought leadership in the clean energy sector must be able to communicate effectively with the public. “I think one of the common failings of attempted thought leadership is to get too focused on the technical details of a pretty complicated issue set,” he said. “At least 99% of the scientists and close to that percentage of very well educated people accept and believe in the urgency of climate change. But close to half of all Americans have expressed skepticism and fallen victim to the fairly effective efforts by clean energy skeptics and climate change deniers to raise doubts about what should be an open and shut case.”
Thus, in order to build on the accomplishments of the last few years, and empowering the adoption of viable clean energy solutions.
Successful thought leaders are able to build trust with their audiences, deputize them to spread key messages and prepare them to react quickly and accurately in a fast-paced media environment. This requires developing a unique voice, honing your ideas and driving a compelling narrative.
By establishing yourself as a credible leader, you can better position yourself as someone reporters and others in the media will seek out as a resource. By leveraging your expertise to engage different constituencies, you’ll be able to forge the optimal balance of listening and leading that is necessary to obtain results.
Provide Relevant Insights
Many would-be thought leaders too often forget one critical aspect about thought leadership: thinking. To think is to direct the use of one’s mind actively to form connected ideas. As such, you must be able to share important insights and solutions that are reliable and actionable. Powerful thought leaders are able to shape their ideas into bold, strategic goals that empower stakeholder buy-in.
According to Tigercomm’s Senior Account Executive and Director of Digital, Bridgette Ombres, you must then amplify your messaging through your own channels, earned media and the effective use of social media. The best thought leaders are happily willing to share their ideas, carefully consider the views of others and find innovative solutions that get results.
The vast majority of transformative changes are born out of asking, “Why didn’t this work,” or “How can I make this work?”
To be an effective thought leader, you must be willing to take calculated risks. Weeding through much of what passes as thought leadership can be a tedious process. While the “rinse and repeat” method of content generation for its own sake may have its limited uses, some of the most valuable innovations are discovered by making small bets and learning from your failures.
You will have much more credibility if you can articulate why a solution works, explain why previous iterations failed and how those failures put you on the right path.
Mr. Neuffer stresses that thought leadership is especially important for those working in the renewable energy sector. “I think we’re in the fight of our lives to disrupt and displace the fossil fuel industry to enable a transition to clean energy,” he said. “If we don’t show we can employ effective thought leadership, polluters will continue harming our planet, putting all of us in jeopardy for their own short-term profit and gain.”