Who is a thought leader? (And how you can become one)Sonal Mishra
‘Thought leader’ is the new buzzword in the business world. So, what makes a thought leader? Thought leadership involves a combination of expertise and cutting-edge thinking. A thought leader is someone who excels in a particular field and makes decisions to create a difference with their head held high.
Now, you might have been in a business for decades, supervising a team of a few hundreds. You may have run a sustainable and profitable business for long, but to be a thought leader, you would have to set out on a journey to share the knowledge that you have gained in your tenure as a leader. Simply put, a thought leader is someone who provides the best and deepest answers to their audience in ways that they can understand. The idea is to spread as much information as one can to direct others onto the right path with the intention of inspiring positive change in the existing ecosystem.
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So how do you do this? Here are a few questions to help you find the answer.
Who are you?
Remember, being a notable expert or a thought leader on a subject usually takes a long time, even in the digital era. Writing a blog and getting people to follow you doesn't make anyone an overnight thought leader. This position is acquired by those who come with lots of experience and knowledge that is worth sharing with those who are willing to grow in a particular field.
To begin this journey, start with spreading your knowledge within your own circle. Your personal network is the ideal place to begin when establishing yourself as a thought leader. To have someone else be as involved as you are in your work and feel the rush of emotions that you go through, you first need to know yourself completely. You need to know exactly what drives you forward and what your passion is. You have to build your personal brand, and it begins from YOU.
Your passion can be in any field, from design, art and sports to business and management. Thought leadership is not restricted to a single industry. So sit back and contemplate your true interest. Innovate and create a niche that goes beyond the conventional. This is what will help you connect with people. Thus, you will begin to build ripples of your influence and find like-minded people who share your beliefs and ideas.
What is your story?
You can lead those who can relate to you. That is the one hook that needs to be in place in order to make things work. You will have to show them the real you. Only after this can you build a strong presence for yourself online through blogging or different marketing strategies. Amidst the cacophony of corporate voices, this one action of yours will reveal what you stand for as a brand working to make a difference. So look into yourself and embrace your experiences. Find the incidents that moved you, changed you and shaped your outlook on the world, and be sure to share them with whoever crosses your path.
Being a thought leader involves putting yourself in the spotlight. Make use of your innate skills and sell your ideas that can be the instrument of change for others.
What is ‘your’ expertise?
Lesson one – Do not sell anything other than your skills, knowledge and expertise. Thought leaders are followed because of their ability to bring deep insights into the subject on the floor. You need to enable people to see the other side of the coin, to see a subject in a different light that pushes them to think beyond conventional terms, all the while giving their confidence a boost.
It’s a true that thought leaders are the most successful individuals in their respective fields. Your expertise and experience vary. But expertise matters, and sharing the nitty-gritties of your work ethics, along with big lessons, should be you main focus.
Thought leadership is about constant growth and not about making the bet early and hoping you are not wrong. It is a path of perseverance and willingness to examine why something you think should work isn’t working and then to remodel it into something more efficient, or abandon it entirely for a better position.