So, lifting off where I left off last week, here is my definition of a thought leader:
A futurist or person who is recognised among their peers, mentors and market for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote and share those ideas as actionable distilled insights.
Now let’s look at the keywords in this definition and in chronological order:
A thought leader must INNOVATE then PROMOTE and SHARE, then gain RECOGNITION.
Every area of our lives is subject to constant change. But every now and then something happens that calls for some dynamic thinking, beyond evolutionary development. Someone needs to lead a new way of thinking to deal with this monumental change, in other words there needs to be a huge shift in thought. One example is the bank bailout in 2008. Controversial yes, but the alternative was unacceptable. Something radical, something new had to be done.
The term thought leadership should be used sparingly, it’s generally only used for a truly new and unique message. It really needs to be a strikingly new angle or idea to be noticed in the crowded leadership arena. But let’s clarify something, it needs to seem new and different enough to get noticed.
Promoting and Sharing
We can assume that most leaders want positive change, they mostly want a good, desirable and beneficial impact on a person or group. To improve the chances of positive change, there needs to be positive intention. It all starts with a tiny idea and the positive will to make it happen. The key here is to identify it and give it the opportunity to shine. Give these people the chance to innovate and promote and share. Think about email communication, as an innovation it took real strength of will to enforce its use and to develop email use within and between companies. People don’t like change, thought leaders are excited by it, they are ready to promote and share their innovative ideas.
Perhaps the idea of recognition for your thought leadership is exciting? Or perhaps it is daunting? There are plenty of inhibitors preventing people from attaining it and it probably won’t surprise you to know that many of these inhibitors are internal factors that reside in the potential leader himself. Ask yourself these questions:
Do you make excuses? Are you too busy to be a thought leader? A real thought leader is too busy for excuses, these are the people who are out there changing the world while others are still asleep.
How do you deal with the pressures of time? If you can make fast decisions, if you can delegate with ease and you don’t waste valuable time, you’re on the path to becoming a thought leader.
How is your time management? Do you spend all your time dealing with crises and fighting fires, the kind that are urgent but not very important? What about the important goals that are not urgent? A thought leader appreciates the importance of these too, and carves out time in the day or week to work on those as well as the urgent items. If you can use this allotted time then after a week, a month you will see a big picture in sharper focus.
So Thought Leadership is your choice. Having read through this, ask yourself if you’re ready to aim for thought leadership. Ask yourself are you meant to be a thought leader? Clearly, by definition, there can’t be too many stand out figures, they just wouldn’t stand out. There needs to be followers too.
If you’re still not sure, then keep reading. Too many people lead their lives feeling unfulfilled. When lack of fulfilment comes from ignoring or fighting the voice inside that has something important to say, the feeling is magnified.