Some of us would like to move from being a thought follower to being a thought leader. To make the move successfully, we need to be very clear about:
- Our passion, expertise and how that adds value to others within our topic area
- What’s in it for us to be a thought leader – and what’s in it for others
- Our limiting beliefs that may be holding us back
Where do your passion and your expertise meet?
That is the critical intersection and ‘sweet spot’ for thought leadership. Using myself as an example, my passion and expertise meet here; “I am passionate about effective philanthropy and am an expert in helping leaders increase their results by shifting the beliefs that limit their impact. I coach people individually and on teams to achieve higher impact by challenging and changing limiting beliefs into ones that work in their favor”. This is where thought leadership flows from and it’s important to get to the heart of this answer for yourself before you get into action.
What’s in it for you to be a thought leader?
Is it part of your job? Are you doing it to further your business or hobby, or perhaps you are a volunteer for a cause you care about? Unless you are clear about what’s specifically in it for you, it’s hard to refill your tank with the energy that comes from acknowledged success. What’s in it for me personally to be a thought leader is to “get my ideas ideas into the mainstream, build credibility for belief coaching and attract more coaching clients”. Perhaps you look to build more credibility within your organization to have a voice at the table? Or maybe you are looking to further your visibility with other potential employers or partners? Being specific about what will be different for you by how much and by when, keeps you focused on progress and learnings, and provides a source of energy to recharge your batteries.
What’s in it for others for you to be a thought leader?
Are you trying to further a specific field of interest? Change prevailing perceptions or attitudes? Perhaps you are working to get disparate groups to the same table to see there are viable solutions? Maybe your goal is to help people to use new skills and tools to improve customer satisfaction? In my work, I look for “others to learn the skills required to challenge and change their limiting beliefs to create the work, the lives and the world they want to live in”. Having clarity on the impact you want to have before you begin communicating keeps your message and meaning focused. When others apply or use what you share, it recharges your batteries and inspires you to share again.
Take some time to answer these questions for yourself. Get some feedback from colleagues and friends that know you or already follow you in an informal way. For some of us, understanding the differences between being a thought follower vs. a thought leader is enough clarity to help us make the move.
At the same time, many of us would like to become thought leaders, yet we still find ourselves hesitating to make the move. For those of us that have the desire, but don’t take the action, it might be our limiting beliefs that are getting in the way.