Should professional service companies bother with thought leadership?

Why every firm needs to stand for something, and talk about it with clarity and confidence.

Ok, you’re a senior manager—law, accountancy, digital agency—you’re swamped. “Thought leadership?” you think. “Luxury or necessity?” The short answer is yes, and the long one? Strap in.

Why the hesitation?

First, let’s decode the reluctance. Thought leadership sounds like a buzzword, I get it. But it’s really about showcasing your smarts and steering the conversation. In professions built on credentials, that’s not just a feather in your cap—it’s the cap itself.

Differentiation in a saturated market

Think about it. Everyone’s qualified, everyone’s good. But thought leadership offers you that little “extra”. The annual PwC Global CEO survey is a masterclass in this, setting the tone for discussions around the state of the global economy and CEOs’ confidence levels. It says, “We’ve got our finger on the pulse, so you’ll want to keep yours on us.”

A boost to brand equity

And there’s gold in them there hills. According to an Edelman-LinkedIn survey, 55% of decision-makers awarded business due to thought leadership. Plus, 60% got better pricing terms. Thought leadership isn’t just brainy, it’s canny.

Credibility beyond sales pitch

A piece of paper says you’re good, thought leadership proves it. Look at Deloitte Insights. Their research reports range from artificial intelligence to workplace inclusivity. Not just talking the talk, but setting the agenda. And clear evidence-based opinions lets you swap notes with your audience. EY does this with its webcasts and social media platforms, inviting opinions, sparking debates. It’s not a monologue; it’s a community forum.

Standing for something: the ethical dimension

Today’s businesses need a soul. Take Linklaters’ thought leadership initiatives around climate change and responsible business. It taps into the zeitgeist, giving clients and staff a cause to rally behind, which builds a meaningful platform home run for visible ESG and social impact.

Attracting the best of the bunch

And for your future workforce? Thought leadership isn’t just client-facing; it’s inward too. Fresh talent wants to be where the action is. Eversheds Sutherland’s initiatives on legal technology and innovation stand as an example, acting as a magnet for next-gen legal brains eager to be part of a forward-thinking setup.

The long-term view: disrupting the status quo

Even small agencies can benefit from consistently keeping their eyes on the horizon. KPMG’s “Change Readiness Index” doesn’t just react to trends; it predicts them. And in an industry on perpetual fast-forward, foresight isn’t a luxury—it’s a lifeline.

So, should professional service companies bother with thought leadership?

Not just a ‘yes’, but more of a ‘how do we go big and do it meaningfully?’

If you’re not leading the conversation, it might be being had without you.


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