How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

What Leadership Bios Look Like

They read your thought leadership content; now they’ve looked up your website bio to learn about your leadership.

The last thing they want to read is an extension of your CV — academic in style. Or a list of your achievements without cohesion or relevance.

Let me be clear: your bio should be 100 percent defensible and credible to any audience (including an academic one). No fat, no fluff.

But your bio must also foreground the story of your expertise. The driving logic of how your research, ideas, service, thought leadership fit together to make impact in the world and your identity through that impact.

Your bio is a portrait of your leadership — not a recitation of accomplishments or publications. More detail is not your friend. You need a wider aperture — one that summarizes with just a single specific highlight or two

  • The broad foci of your research;
  • Your research leadership — what you’ve been the first or among the first to study, discover and synthesize;
  • Which paradigm shifts your research has led;
  • The leadership areas of your research group;
  • The relationship of your research and expertise to non-research organizations — whom you counsel; which private ventures your research might have led to; your work with government, corporate and civil sector leaders; your authorship of important civil sector reports; and your service

Here’s a great example: the bio of Jessica Hellmann, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. You walk away from it thinking: Hellmann is a leader, a researcher who on all fronts has targeted impact as her goal.

How does she do it? Pay attention especially to the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Hellmann’s bio. I’ll go over these in Monday’s email, when I return from the long holiday weekend here in the States. Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers, and best wishes for the week to all of you.