The Attention Economy Is Changing Leadership

By Patrick Foster

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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What is the Attention Economy?

As the name suggests, the term ‘attention economy’ refers to the idea that, in a digital-first world, attention is a valuable but scarce commodity.

Between social media, content, push notifications, billboards, and other media messages, the fight for an individual’s attention is a fierce one.

And attention is a valuable resource. When you have someone’s attention, you can sell, advertise, convince, and cajole.

Consequently, it provides opportunities for brands to make money and media publications to expand their readership and boost ad revenue.

But what does this mean for leadership? Your thought pieces, your social presence, your video insights — these are all up against countless others, all competing for your target audience’s attention.

People no longer flock to leaders for guidance and support. With so many resources available online, we have a wealth of options at our fingertips. So instead, leaders must give people a reason to flock to them.

What Can Leaders Do to Win the Attention Economy?

The fight for attention isn’t lost. Thankfully, there are things you can do to get yourself seen in this digital age.

Create Immediacy to Pique Interest

When something has a sense of urgency, it has perceived value. When a sofa store has a sale that is ending soon, it probably isn’t.

But because it is depicted as such, it feels important, and customers are compelled to make a purchase sooner rather than later.

The same applies to leadership. When an announcement is seen as urgent, it feels important. People sit up and take note, regardless of how important the content actually is.

That said, once you’ve got your audience’s attention with urgency, you should deliver on that by providing something worth their time (which I’ll touch on later). Empty promises will only repel your audience.

Takeaway tip

Give your content a sense of urgency to make it resonate with your audience. E-commerce businesses usually achieve this with a countdown or deadline, but you can be a little more creative. Make clear that your content is a necessity by highlighting required actions and specifying what teams it will impact.

Make Your Leadership Visible and Accessible

The attention economy is so rife because it’s so competitive. People are bombarded with content from every angle.

So don’t be reticent with your leadership content. Make it easy to find by sharing it far and wide. You already have a direct line to your employees via email, so send regular updates to get their full attention.

Your social media presence is also a great way to promote leadership. Your employees and industry followers can receive your content in their news feeds, nestled right alongside their friends’ posts.

Guest posting to is a fine way to get your work seen. Reach out to industry professionals and offer them some thought leadership content free of charge (or even as a swap). Readers can be directed to your LinkedIn or business page, and your name will get recognized as an industry heavy-hitter.

Takeaway tip:

Let your leadership trickle down by delegating important announcements to team heads. Hold regular meetings with managers and encourage them to pass on your comments to their team. You help them manage projects better at a micro level while delivering messages directly to smaller, targeted audiences.

Go Above and Beyond With the Value You Deliver

Above anything else, people want value from what they consume. Humorous content is throwaway, topical pieces are fleeting, but content that delivers real value will last a lifetime.

Whatever you are communicating to your employees, find the value in it and place it front and center. Make it clear as to who your content matters to and why.

Highlight the most valuable parts of your content with pop-out quotes or bold text. Your reader’s eyes will naturally be drawn to them at first glance, piquing their interest and encouraging them to read your piece.

Takeaway tip:

The key to value is delivering it consistently. A useful blog here or an interesting email there isn’t enough to keep your employees hooked. Instead, you should provide value on a regular basis. Everything you produce should include actionable takeaways that your readers can go away and implement today.

Delivering Leadership

The attention economy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead, look at it as a challenge, a chance to deliver leadership in a fresh, dynamic way.

How Does the Attention Economy Affect Leadership?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Patrick Foster
Patrick Foster
Patrick Foster is an ecommerce consultant dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector.
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