Palesa Phili is the chief exeutive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Palesa Phili is the chief exeutive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Thought leadership's role in growing the economy

By Palesa Phili Time of article published Mar 8, 2020

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DURBAN - In this day and age, thought leadership has become increasingly important and integral to businesses, as brand, marketing and communications activities have moved beyond more traditional strategies. 

Thought leadership has a significant role to play in the economy as it positions particular organisations within a given sector as market leaders and a valuable source of sector-specific knowledge and experience. It also allows these industry leaders to impart their learned expertise to other businesses, thus enabling growth and innovation throughout a particular sector and the entire economy by virtue of the power of thought leadership.

Creating thought leadership platforms is now an essential tool to drive local and regional inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development. It encourages businesses to specialise in their field to become thought leaders. 

Thought leadership empowers other companies, especially Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), to grow via the lived experience and expertise of thought leadership organisations by utilising tried and trusted methodologies and activities. That is why the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry positions its industry-specific business forums from a thought leadership perspective in order to create an environment of mutual learning and development that will encourage business creativity and innovation.

In 2018, the Chamber launched a specialist Thought Leadership Business Forum to encourage knowledge sharing and to provide a base for local businesses to cope with the constant change and flux, which is a sign of the 21st-century global market. Thought leadership platforms represent a unique opportunity for businesses of all sizes and their employees, no matter their level of seniority, to cross-pollinate knowledge and unique perspectiveswith peers, strategic partners and clients to enable growth and innovation throughout their sector and the economy as a whole.

Thought leadership is now a value-adding resource that imparts best practices, knowledge-sets, case studies and the experienceand expertise of highly skilled and talented business people to other businesses in order to fuel business growth or aid organisation to cope with business challenges. Thought leadership encourages and empowers businesses to think differently about their industry standards and to accept the fact that the traditional ways of doing business may no longer be as relevant as they once were. 

Knowledge sharing and collaboration with peers, partners and even clients will introduce new ways of thinking that will reinvent industry sectors and significantly impact business models, the marketplace, employees, consumers and the workplace.

Diversity of thought, which is encouraged by thought leadership,can be a breakthrough for industries and local economies, especially during difficult times. Thought leaders, who are continually testing their constructively disruptive ideas and ideals can be more agile and creative in dealing with business challenges and can fuel growth by approaching opportunities through unique ways. South Africa is still a resource-based economy that is slowly transitioning to a knowledge-based economy. But, from there, in order to cope with the agile and ever-changing global socio-economic landscape, we need to transition to a wisdom-based economy as it is no longer about what you know but what you do with what you know.

In a wisdom-based economy, the foundation of inclusive and sustainable growth and development is centred around three core principles of trust, transparency and collaboration. 

In these uncertain economic times, every business, no matter its size, wants to grow and many are reinventing themselves to find their place. All businesses must position their organisations and its leaders as catalysts for growth through thought leadership.

Palesa Phili is the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry


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