Sigh. Thanks a lot, AI. You’ve ruined it for everyone.

It was so simple back in the good old days. Thought Leadership alone was enough to help us stand out from the crowd. All we had to do was write a few thousand words that showed off our expertise and we could build our personal brands on that. Sweet.

But then came AI. Suddenly, it’s become hard to trust expert content at face value. Is this genuine expertise developed from experience, or is it AI-generated content generated from a 2-minute prompt? When anyone can sound like an expert on any subject, it’s only natural that we start to have our suspicions. The more AI-generated content there is pumped into our feeds, the more suspicious we get.

Dammit, AI.

So how the hell are we supposed to earn the trust of our audience and impact our industry and community anymore? Let me introduce you to Community Leadership.

If Thought Leadership is content that shows off our expertise, then Community Leadership is content that demonstrates the impact we have in real life on our peers, industry, and community. It’s the ongoing story of us out there networking, building relationships with our clients, and engaging with our communities in ways that AI simply can't replicate.

In other words, it’s what we already do in real life, represented on LinkedIn. We didn’t get to a leadership position just by telling people how smart we are, we earned people’s trust by our actions. 

Take, for example, the act of mentoring within your industry. Or being at industry events as a speaker, or in community initiatives with like-minded people. These are moments where your actions speak louder than any article or blog post. Documenting these experiences, sharing insights gained, challenges overcome, and the connections made along the way enriches your professional narrative. It provides a multifaceted view of your leadership, one that encompasses not just what you know, but how you apply it for the benefit of others.

The more stories we share of community and connection, the more our community can trust in what we have to say. That’s what Community Leadership does, it builds trust before we share our expertise. We're not abandoning Thought Leadership – but if we don’t show our values and impact in action, there’s little reason for others to trust our Thought Leadership. 

But let's be clear, this was the way to build our personal brands all along. We might have been able to get away with only Thought Leadership in the past, but AI has levelled the playing field. Embracing Community Leadership will pave the way for trust, influence, and meaningful relationships that echo with authenticity. It’ll enable us to stand out in an increasingly automated world. Now, it's our actions, our involvement, and the tangible contributions we make to our communities that truly define our leadership.

Long live Community Leadership.

Anthony is a business consultant and LinkedIn marketing specialist.