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5 Characteristics of Effective Human Resources Thought Leaders

The concept of “thought leader” is relatively new. Google’s Ngram Viewer shows that the term barely registered in print prior to the late 1990s when internet became mainstream.

Thought leaders had no readily available media to convey their expertise before blogs, social media, and podcasts. That changed at the turn of the century.

Thought leaders are individuals or companies that are experts in their respective industries. They built reputations for being accurate, authoritative, innovative, and reliable commentators in specialized fields. Thought leaders are influencers with the power to start discussions about various aspects of their industry, and disrupt the status quo.

Human Resources thought leaders understand the changing dynamics of the industry in the 21st century. Globalization and technology have streamlined some HR duties, while simultaneously expanding the overall scope. Thought leadership is essential for influencing policymakers, advancing successful practices, and shaping the industry as a whole. The most successful HR thought leaders possess the following five characteristics.

Confidence is Key

Self-confident people overcome fears. They set high bars for themselves, step out of their comfort zones, and believe in what they’re doing even when others don’t. Human nature innately processes self-confidence as appealing, fascinating and magnetic. Some researchers suggest that both men and women are more attracted to self-confidence over looks on first dates. Self-confidence provides a preview of other personality traits (e.g. kindness, ambition) that cannot be directly observed in one evening. This same theory has been proven in occupational settings as well.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that overconfidence in oneself led to higher social status. The study also found that overconfidence was perceived as competence by others. People with bloated egos continue their behavior because it leads to higher social status. The science is clear. Present yourself as confident and others will listen and follow you.


JK Rowling is the most successful author in history. She became the first billionaire author in 2015 when the Harry Potter series sold its 400 millionth copy. It is the best-selling book series of all time. But Harry Potter may have never happened without Rowling’s perseverance. She wrote the first Potter book in cafes while surviving on government benefits. It was rejected by twelve publishers before one finally accepted. Rowling continued forward despite all the setbacks, and the rest is history.

HR managers present ideas to C-level management that sometimes get rejected. They overcome these challenges by asking questions and making adjustments. Perseverance is also crucial when learning new, complex technologies and skills. Intelligence gets you to the starting block. Perseverance guides you to the finish line.

Consistent Content

Thought leadership is a form of content marketing. The most influential thought leaders regularly utilize blogs, Youtube, social media and podcasts. Consistent publishing is essential not only for keep followers engaged, but also for SEO purposes. Regular blogging and social media posting make you stand out from the crowd. But all content is not created equal.

Content marketing is time-consuming. Google and Facebook algorithms favor content that teaches, engages, and adds valuable to the given subject matter. Most thought leaders hire freelance writers or employ full-time strategists for their content needs. Organizations ask employees to write blogs. Consistency is the key regardless of method and medium.

Be proactive

A faint grinding noise while braking in your car is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong. Worn brake pads are likely. But the problem could be more complex. That faint grinding noise gets louder the longer you ignore it. Repairs costs would have been $100 had the work been done immediately upon discovery. Now the rotors and calipers needs replacing as well, bloating the repair bill over $1,000.

Strong HR leaders nip problems in the bud immediately. They don’t wait for problems to fix themselves. Fixing minor issues before they hurt the company is the philosophy of proactive HR managers. For instance, an employee brings their dog to work everyday because company policy allows it. The HR manager notices the looks on other’s faces as the dog walks around the office and interrupts their workflows. A private conversation or email to the dog owner stating that they are abusing the policy prevents the issue from spiraling out of control.

Lead By Example

Whether its new time clock procedures or new healthcare plans, the burden is on HR to ensure everyone understands and acclimates. Humans are creatures of habit. We don’t necessarily like change. HR managers must demonstrate all new protocols and answer questions thereof. Make private meetings with employees who are reluctant or having a hard time adjusting. Smooth implementation means comprehensive communication.

HR leaders place their companies in the best position to succeed with these five traits. They set themselves up to become thought leaders in the industry.

Content Coup specializes in content marketing and legal writing. My client are small business owners, large corporations, marketing firms, attorneys and pro-se litigants. Contact me today to discuss your project scope.

5 company blogs that are doing it right

Successful company blogs typically have three things in common: consistent editorial calendars, high-quality content, and effective calls-to-action. They make mundane topics interesting and interesting topics fascinating. Companies that prioritize blogging quickly establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries, while being rewarded by Google’s ever-changing PageRank algorithms for regularly publishing new content.

Several companies are trendsetters and/or standard bearers when it comes to how a company blog should be ran. Here are five of the best company blogs in 2017.

Disney Parks

Whether you’re a baby-boomer who grew up loving Mickey Mouse, or a millennial who fell in love with Princess Jasmine from “Aladdin,” it seems everyone has a favorite Disney character. The parks are also pretty popular (understatement alert). Disney World in Florida attracts over 54 million visitors per year, while well over 700 million visitors have been to Disneyland in California since opening in 1955.

The Disney Parks blog provides a virtual ticket inside its properties right from your laptop or smartphone. It frequently publishes personal accounts of visitors’ experiences, including celebrities. The Disney Parks blog also displays photos of its regular authors within posts, giving it a more personal, human feel (those using WordPress can install a simple plugin to do the same on their blogs).

When readers visit the Disney Parks blog, they feel and experience the brand as one would expect: fun, professional and inspiring.


Active, outdoorsy-types have likely stumbled across the REI blog while searching for the latest cycling, hiking or camping gear. Known as the “Co-Op Journal,” the REI blog conveniently displays all of its blog categories as a main menu across the top of every page.

REI’s content epitomizes balance. It educates readers while subtly plugging its products without sounding overly advertorial. For instance, the company offers advice on how to choose the right sleeping bag. Obviously REI hopes you choose one of their options, but provides objective, actionable tips and commentary to help you make an informed decision.

The “rate this story” feature gives the REI blog a social media feel on its own website. It also confirms that readers enjoy the content. All posts on the Co-Op Journal’s front page earned at least four evergreen trees out of five (as of April 21).

Southwest Airlines

The marketing team at Southwest Airlines gets kudos for creating one of the funniest, most clever advertising campaigns in history. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Southwest’s marketing team inspired humor and creativity in others.

They also deserve credit for thinking outside the box when it comes to their blog. The “Nuts About Southwest” was launched in 2008. A group of employees post regular content relating to everything from TSA regulations to new planes joining Southwest fleet. But a majority of the content is posted by customers.

Southwest allows users to create profiles and post their questions, concerns and compliments as actual blog entries. Southwest employees sometimes respond directly to these posts, but typically other readers answer them first. One user recently posted a complaint about ambiguity in Southwest’s unaccompanied minor policy on international flights. Another reader posted the policy’s full text in the comments section, answering the questions at hand.

This type of setup isn’t ideal for every company, but it works well for a large airline with millions of customers.

Dollar Shave Club

There are some interesting and entertaining results when you enter “men hate shaving” in search engines. But two of the most consistent complaints are that razors are expensive and dull fast.

For those unfamiliar, the Dollar Shave Club is a mail order service that delivers customers a fresh supply of replaceable blades for its custom razor handles every month.

The company also sells a line of personal hygiene products, including shaving cream and after-shave. But few companies can pull off the edginess Dollar Shave Club does on its blog.

Most marketing executives would balk at the idea of a story entitled “Do I Need To Wipe If I’m About To Shower” being published on its company blog. But how many of you just clicked the aforementioned link out of total curiosity? Dollar Shave Club blog has perfected the art of writing catchy headlines and discussing intimate personal hygiene issues others would rather leave alone.

The blog is also a standard bearer for balancing quality and quantity. The company posts upwards of five new articles per day, but all of them are either educational, interesting or just down-right funny.

Bigelow Tea

Like our own Content Coup blog, Bigelow Tea shows that quality content is far more important than aesthetics when it comes to reader acquisition and retention. The company uses a very simple, no-frills theme that is not going to win any web design awards or even subtle praise. But when you get hundreds of “likes” and shares of your content, none of that matters.

Tea drinkers tend to be earthly, spiritual, healthy people. The Bigelow Tea blog caters to this demographic while subtly highlighting its products. A blog post about how to start an indoor garden gives instructions on how to plant seed that grow in tea bags.

The blog touches on subjects like what foods go best with different Bigelow teas, better snacking habits, and relaxation methods. It also keeps customers apprised on the company’s conservation efforts. The only glaring flaw on Bigelow’s blog is poor navigation. There is no “home” button at the top and clicking on the blog title takes you to the Bigelow website (away from the blog). But again, good content is the equilizer and keeps readers coming back for more.

Are you ready to add your company’s name to this list of impressive blogs? Contact us today at support@contentcoup.com. Check out our content packages and FAQ section. Cut out the middle man and join the revolution today!