Talk around thought leadership has been building over the last few years but what exactly is it?
To answer this question, we have to first define what is leadership.
Leadership is not just a couple of things that you do. It’ is about consistently building relationships and showing others the way. Thought leadership is building relationships and providing guidance and inspiration through the knowledge that you have gained on your journey.
As Simon Sinek says,
“Leadership is not a rank or position. Leadership is a choice. Leadership is a decision.”
It’s the decision I made when I was faced with a speech and knew I had to open up and share my story for the first time. I knew I needed to tell the story of how I grew up and how hard I had to work to get to where I am today.
Our stories connect and inspire. So do our listening skills. Thought leadership is not just about talking and sharing. It’s about listening and building a community. Being a thought leader means you take on responsibility for helping those around you.
I like the way WGU puts it, “In short, the definition of thought leadership is innovative thinking full of insight and information.”
But it’s not just any information, it’s information that you can use to help others rise. A thought leader then is someone who shares their knowledge and insight in a way that lifts others up and helps them grow.
Why should thought leadership matter to you now?
The world is changing rapidly and we need more people who are willing to step up and share their stories and their solutions. What they’ve overcome and how they’ve overcome it.
I’m so passionate about this that I built a whole agency around it, Life Stamp. Because I want you to do just that, make your stamp on the world. We have been talking about all the many benefits of building a personal brand and the opportunities for becoming a thought leader in your field is definitely a big one of those.
Being a thought leader has a lot of perks but true thought leaders stay humble enough to know who they serve and care about that.
It’s important to remember that building out your personal brand doesn’t take away from others. It actually enhances your team and gives value to everyone around you. With your brand, you become an advocate for your team and for your audience helping them have a voice too.
So how can you become a person of positive influence and change, a thought leader in your industry?
You need to start at the foundation with your beliefs and core values. This is something I cover in detail in my soon-to-be-released book, A Million Little Clicks.
Starting at your foundation will help you have a deep understanding of who you are and what you are good at. It also will help you see how you can serve others. From here, you’ll discover who your audience is and how you can help them. Then, you’ll be able to work on your brand pillars and build out your content true to your voice and message in a way that resonates with your audience.
Back to consistency. We talked about that a little in the beginning. People need time to trust you as you build out your brand. Be consistent. Keep showing up for others. And keep building. You can make needed adjustments along the way but work on being consistent with your branding elements, your story, your tone, and your posting schedule so your audience knows what to expect from you.
Get a good team that will support you and as you support others. Never stop learning. As the world changes, we must adapt and be flexible and never stop learning. Thought leaders are innovators who are staying ahead.
To get started, think about what others come to you for, what others say you are good at. Think about where your passions meet your skills. Then, brainstorm how you can use those passions and skills to serve others better.
There can be innovators that stay ahead of curves but they have no people skills. These are not good thought leaders. Learn how to translate your knowledge in a way that inspires and motivates. This takes humility and empathy.
Taking it down to a personal level, as thought leaders we need to guard our own time and energy and care about what we are feeding our minds. We need- intentionality. We need to be intentional in the way we live and work and in the way we create and share our message.
It’s something I talked about in an interview with David McGlennen for the Be The Leader podcast. How I had to move away from things that caused more fear or distraction, especially with what we all experienced last year. I had to be intentional about my focus.
I wanted to be authentic in the way that I presented myself in business and life. We cannot be real leaders without some authenticity.
Your values, your story, your core beliefs, what makes you who you are, all drive your brand and can set you up as a thought leader in your field if you are willing to step out.
Will you take on the challenge?
I’ve been through the process and I’m here to help if you need me.