Being a thought leader today takes time, energy and an expertise on a particular subject. Thought leaders are known as being the go-to person in their discipline. How do you become one? Typically, thought leaders have excelled at a time earlier in their career, which gives them a better ability to articulate and express their beliefs on something. They can understand the cause and effect of how things work. The biggest thing with becoming a thought leader is your ability to express your past experiences and knowledge. You can’t become a thought leader by keeping all your knowledge in your head.
Yes, you think you know everything, naturally. But not everyone believes you. It is your job to demonstrate that you have been there done that, or some unique viewpoints to add to the conversation. There are numerous ways to express yourself, for example, writing a series of blog posts, publishing a non-fiction book, or answering questions on Quora. These days, demonstrating your thought leadership is fairly simple. It all comes down to whether or not you are actually interested in becoming one. The opportunity is there for the taking, if you think you know it all, prove it.
The survey above found that 85% of respondents viewed the main objective of content creation as establishing thought leadership. Building a brand’s visibility and buzz was a close second, at 80%.
Content creation is one of the biggest ways to express 21st century thought leadership. Through the use of the stated channels above, expressing your opinion today is easier than ever. The key to executable content creation is truly understanding your topic and being able to clearly articulate it. Don’t worry though, you need to start somewhere and the true professionals whose thoughts really matter will respect your effort for bringing something to the table.
We’ve turned into a society that constantly is gathering information, whether that is through Twitter, Quora or Facebook, and relevant information is easily accessible on a moment’s notice. You too have the opportunity to join in on discussions and start forming your voice online.
Effective Thought Leadership
As seen in this graph above by the Agile Coaching Institute, the four quadrants for effective thought leadership are educating & mentoring, coaching & facilitating, domain mastery and lean-agile process knowledge. The core of these focus on expressing an expertise through content, pushing others to accomplish more through feedback, mastering business/tech domains, and an expertise in process, practices & principles. To understand how each one of these quadrants play together is key. Through study and practice of these, you can establish the framework for effective thought leadership. The ability to gather these skill sets and combine each of them in practice will separate the novice from the master thought leaders.
Share Your Voice and Expand Your Reach
When someone asks for your opinion on something you really understand, you usually feel good about being able to help out. It makes you feel valued when you can state your opinion that has weight behind it. Now imagine taking that feeling that you got from answering it to a few people and multiply that by a few million. Some TED talks have received over 15 million views! Now that is reach. By taking opportunities to speak, write or express your knowledge, you’re creating opportunities and insight not only for your career but for other people and their lives.
When you store all your information and knowledge, only a small amount are affected, when you express your thoughts, beliefs, values, the world becomes a more diverse, and better place. Superb communication turns into thought leadership which turns into change. Remember, don’t keep it all upstairs. Every person has a voice, if you want to be heard, use yours.