It seems like everyone’s talking about “thought leadership” right now. Business publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur frequently feature articles on the do’s and don’ts of being a thought leader, impressing that thought leadership should be a priority. Everyone on LinkedIn seems to want to be a “thought leader.” But what exactly does thought leadership mean when it comes to doing what you really love?
What is a Thought Leader?
Simply put by Forbes:
“A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
Clearly, this kind of influence can revolutionize your purpose. People are attracted to enlightened leaders who can help them attain the lives they want. Doing what you really love, and flourishing financially while doing it, becomes much more feasible when people are clamoring to work with you!
Much like a nickname, the title “thought leader” is not one you bestow upon yourself. It’s a positive reputation you earn over time as you hone your practice and provide value to others by sharing your unique purpose. In other words, thought leadership happens when your specific message and methods help your market to achieve real results, and word spreads about your abilities!
What Does it Take to Become a Thought Leader?
In The Thought Leader’s Practice, authors Matt Church, Peter Cook and Scott Stein put it, “You need to be able to create new insights and repurpose old insights so that they are relevant. This is thought leadership. . . Knowledge is not a competitive advantage – knowing how to apply that knowledge to achieve a specific, desired outcome is!”
Thought leadership comes from within. It’s more akin to wisdom than to knowledge, in that you’re applying your experience and learnings to solve real world problems in a way that only you can. Wisdom is quite rare, but it can be achieved with sufficient time and practice. To become a respected thought leader, you must develop insight and learn to share it in a way that helps others to connect the dots and achieve results that they couldn’t reach before.
How Can I Become a Thought Leader?
When we read about thought leaders and feel called to become one, what our soul is really searching for is a way to make a meaningful impact on the world. “Thought leader” is a hot buzzword right now, but it simply describes the yearning within us to make a difference for others. We want to put our stamp on the world and leave a legacy. Accomplishing this takes time just as any other journey does.
Becoming a thought leader is all about embracing authenticity. We all have innate wisdom within ourselves that creates a foundation for serving others well. When you tap into your genuine purpose, you invite others to experience the real, impactful change that they crave. Others become attracted to the one-of-a-kind message that you deliver.
Here are 3 baby step suggestions to become wiser in your work:
Strive to learn all you can about your passion. Read books, research articles, study for a certification, or enroll in training or a networking group. Invest time identifying areas of need that aren’t being addressed, or questions that haven’t been answered. Consider how your skills can solve unique problems and make a positive impact on the world. In other words, as you research, ask yourself, “What’s missing?”
This practice of knowledge seeking is continuous. Over time, you’ll identify new challenges where you have special contributions to make. It will also familiarize you with additional reading, certifications or training you may want to get in the future to bring your gifts to the world in a very effective way.
Some things can only be learned through doing. This is why I strongly encourage my clients to consider launching a pilot program. It’s important to apply your purpose in the real world to experience what works and what doesn’t.
Seek out safe spaces where you can practice your problem-solving skills with real people. Create for yourself an environment where you can make mistakes and gather honest feedback from people who support you. No amount of studying or research can replace this type of experience.
It’s no secret that self-care is vital to live a peaceful, joyful life. In the process of growing as a thought leader, though, it is absolutely essential. When you pursue what you really love, it can be tempting to go “all in.” As you spend more time practicing your purpose, you’ll more often find yourself in flow, which is a truly enjoyable state.
However, wisdom requires processing. In other words, even though you’re enjoying your work, a lack of downtime will hold you back from becoming a more perceptive thought leader. As Scientific American puts it, “A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self.” Talk about growing in authenticity!
Baby Steps Will Get You There
Nobody becomes a thought leader overnight. It takes time to learn how to be authentic to your knowledge and skills, and also to build confidence in your ability to do what you really love. Everyone starts somewhere.
As you continue along your hero’s journey, engage trusted support. Identify and enroll someone who will encourage you and help you articulate your purpose to the world. As a breakthrough coach, this kind of support is my specialty. I would be honored to support you!
Complimentary Breakthrough Consultation
I’d love to visit with you to discuss how breakthrough coaching can help you grow as an authoritative leader in doing what you really love. I offer a complimentary online Engaging Breakthrough consultation via Zoom.
In this 30-60 minute online breakthrough coaching session, I will help you get crystal clear on where you are right now and where you want to be. I’ll give you my best professional recommendations to help you take your first steps toward your success breakthrough.
|Written by Craig Tennant
Founder, Engaging Breakthroughs
Transformation Architect and Breakthrough Coach At Engaging Breakthroughs, Craig Tennant delivers
breakthrough success workshops and online life breakthrough
coaching for people who seek to break through to success
and discover life beyond the 9 to 5.