Connery recently published an in-depth post on how brands should be passing the mic to their star employees in order to democratize thought leadership:
He explains that the digital environment has given everyone access to a microphone, but brands have responded with a muzzle. Rather than embracing employee's ideas, they choose to express the siloed ideas of executives. In addition, brands have put policies in place to ensure everyone knows who is allowed to speak, and in what context.
In response, Connery challenges us to cut through the hierarchy and empower passionate employees:
"Left out of this mix are the sub C-Suite star employees. The engineer who wants to usher in female technical talent. The rising designer with ideas for adapting the brand’s visual identity to new channels and audiences. The marketing manager who wants to blow up how brands think about social media. These are mid-level employees who are hungry, have new ideas, and who are trying to build their careers. Yet they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the brand, and are not supported by the brand in their own thought leadership activities."
A company needs to rethink the inner workings of their thought leadership and realize that the answer lies within the thoughts of their star employees.
The Key: Pass the Mic, Not the Muzzle
In order for this system to work, Connery demonstrates what requirements and benefits are needed for both the brand and the employee:
They need to explore and ideate on what they want to speak to. Employees are given the freedom to take full ownership over their own ideas, and in addition, their ideas are published under their own name. As a result, they are given an identity within the company with the potential for their content to become viral. The ability to publish can contribute to an employees impact and career growth.
Brands must support employees with resources and material. By empowering employees to speak publicly, brands will experience a higher amount of employee retention and employee recruitment. In addition, the brand will be distant from the content published, allowing for the content to be truly authentic. In the end, brands get first dibs on ideas generated in partnership that further support the brands mission.
In the end, Connery reiterates the importance of brands empowering their employees to share:
"Brands that continue to choose the muzzle over the microphone — control over openness — risk losing those star employees to competitors with a greater appetite for experimentation. What’s more, they risk disruption from new competitors evolving at a quicker pace."
I highly suggest you read the full article found here.