Think of the greatest mentor of your professional lifetime. What did you admire about them most? Chances are, it was not the way they looked, their accent or the style of their office. It was probably not their prosperity, vocation or even the respect of their employees. What likely stood out in a voluminous fashion was the way this praiseworthy mentor spoke to you. The raw advice – meaningful, determining and even momentous – that captivated, inspired and inspirited you to galvanize your plans for business successes of your own.
In other words…Thought Leadership.
Entrepreneurs who have lived through successes, failures and more successes have an influential presence – one capable of evoking exhilaration, energy and zeal in those around them. The greatest of entrepreneurs recognize that, as a reward of their own endurance and enterprise, they are also gifted with the unique opportunity to share their insight, judgment and philosophy with those looking to empower their lives – personal and professional.
Thought Leaders recognize that their experiences have given them a unique perspicacity, one that, if shared, can greatly benefit the next generation of business leadership. Unfortunately, not every entrepreneur realizes they can be a true Thought Leader. They do not recognize that their worldliness, seasoning and empiricism can deliver profound guidance to those just learning how to navigate professional waters. This, of course, is a pity – as the world can use as many authentic, unfeigned thought leaders as possible.
Now, of course, it is understandable that titans of industry – big and small – may not see themselves as Thought Leaders. They may not realize the titanic opportunity they have to impart their expertise for the betterment of tomorrow’s business leadership. It is possible that many successful business leaders simply do not realize all they have to offer, as people in business…not just as business people.
As 2014 emerges, seek out thought leaders that you feel amplify your own professional intentions – mentors with prodigiousness and, in some instances, even a latent omnipresence. Read their books. Read their blogs. Recognize the potential in them – and in you. Then, consider stepping forward as a thought leader in your own right, one interested in participating in the distribution of knowledge and expertise. Becoming a Thought Leader is not as difficult as it may sound, if you simply catalog sharing your wisdom as an action that is important to you.
To be a Thought Leader in 2014:
- Write. Write. Write: Share your expertise, experiences and industry outlook regularly by blogging and contributing articles to leading publications in your industry. Do not feel that blogging is an overwhelming – or even underwhelming – activity. Seek help in conveying your vision. There are content strategists, brand journalists and a host of solid writers available to assist you in planning your thought direction and composing your observations. Promote your blog on your website and on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. Share your knowledge regularly!
- Believe in Your Value: Before you can be a Thought Leader, you must believe your expertise is valuable. Influential thought leaders have unique platforms on which they build their content strategy and speaking engagements. Being a thought leader does not have to take you away from the demands of your business – it simply is another, very manageable demand in your business life. Allocate time to map out the topics that are of greatest interest to you professionally, and the themes you would like to convey for each as a writer and speaker.
- Be Timely: Thought Leaders are reactionary and thrive by sharing their interpretation of timely news, trends and issues. As a business leader, you are already aware of the latest happenings. Take that knowledge and share it with your audience. Thought leaders know how to take any piece of news and make it relevant to their audience – even if their audience is simply their own workforce. Be progressive and timely in your expertise sharing – time is of the essence.
Becoming a Thought Leader is altruistic. It is also smart marketing! Thought leaders are building their own professional reputations every time they share their inspiration. In short, being a Thought Leader is a win-win opportunity, especially for the Thought Leader. Why? The Thought Leader gets the personal rewards of sharing their expertise, while, at the same time, earns the professional recognition and reputation boost that comes with being an established authority. As an added bonus, business professionals and emerging entrepreneurs are benefiting from the knowledge shared by the Thought Leader – and the next wave of Thought Leadership is born.