What Is A Thought Leader?(And How You Can Become One)

- Leadership

by Allan Borch

Do you have what it takes to become a leader? In pursuit of success, leadership has always been a significant part of the entire process. You either choose to follow a leader or take the lead to reach your goals. Under the care of a good leader, you or your entire team will succeed.

But did you know that there are different leadership styles that can impact the way a leader leads and deals with different situations? One of these styles is thought leadership. Among the numerous types of leaders, what has emerged in recent years is the concept of a thought leader. While the term thought leader has been mentioned in a lot of sources and conversations, its true definition remains vague to many.

What exactly is a thought leader? How is it different from other types of leaders? More importantly, how can you become one? In this article, we will answer all of these questions.

What is a thought leader?

This refers to an individual or organization that provides credible insights, guidance, and ideas to the industry they belong to. But such leaders do more than just share, they also show their leadership strategies through their actions and accomplishments

Thought leaders are good at expressing ideas and executing them. What sets them apart from other types of leaders, however, is that they inspire people to act on the ideas they share. Because of the value they provide, they have a strong influence on the people around them.

A good example of a thought leader is Simon Sinek. His TED Talk on the “Three Golden Circles” alone is full of amazing insights that, when applied to your own personal goals and plans, will help you achieve greatness beyond your dreams. Sinek continues to stretch and challenge the way people think about entrepreneurship, leadership, and organizational structure.

How can you become a thought leader?

Understanding thought leadership is one thing, being a thought leader is quite another. Many corporate and organizational leaders have led their groups effectively, but not many of them have the ability to be authoritative and influential at the same time. This is understandable, considering that you’re going to need lots of experience in the field you are in if you wish to have the same leadership qualities. Also, you will have to build your credibility. In your way to becoming a thought leader, it is important that you deliver results with what you do.

Six steps to becoming a thought leader:

#1: Figure out your niche: The first thing that you should do is to identify your area of expertise. What are you good at? What can you bring to the table? In striving for the thought leadership status, you have to be self-aware. It is important that you understand your strengths, and what you can offer to bring value to the people around you. You should figure out who your audience is and stick to your niche.

This will help you create a better and more reputable brand. Don’t try to be a thought leader in a thousand areas or niches. Identify your key strengths and double down on those. It will be easier for you to build a good reputation this way. It is also important to continuously learn about your niche. Continuous learning in your field will have a huge impact on the credibility of the ideas you share with your audience.

#2: Create good quality content: One of the qualities of a good leader is being a good communicator, and as a thought leader, you should be able to master that skill by creating content. In thought leadership, content is king. How else will you share your insights and ideas with the people in your industry? In creating content, quality should be your top priority. Even if you have great ideas, if you can’t send the message out there clearly and creatively, you can only go so far.

What type of content should you create? It must be suitable for your niche. You have to identify who your target audience is and align your content with them. One of the most effective types of content is a blog. Blogging is one of the most practical and powerful ways to share your ideas and insights. Creating a blog is also made easier what with all the tutorials you’ll find online, including a complete beginners guide on using WordPress.

You can also create video content and utilize social media. As a thought leader, you need to be visible to your online audience. This is why it is critical for you to take advantage of social media platforms. Being constantly active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will go a long way.
In creating content, it is important that you are authentic. Building your personal brand comes down to loving what you do.

Thought leadership is about transferring your knowledge and enthusiasm to your target audience. With the technology that we have, presenting yourself to the world has never been easier. The thing is, there is an endless supply of content marketing ideas out there. It comes down to getting people’s attention and providing them with value and inspiration.

#3: Gain experience: To be a thought leader, you will have to share ideas and stories that inspire people, and you will be able to do that through your experiences. What’s fascinating about thought leaders is that they believe in what they say so much that they influence other people to believe them too. How do they become so confident with their ideas? Simple. Their experiences provide them with the data to back their ideas and prove they work. In order for the people in your industry to see you as an authority, you have to be credible, and the best way to build credibility is by getting as much experience as you can.

#4: Expand your network: The upside of expanding your network is you get to collect new ideas and perspectives from other people. Attending social networking events like conferences will boost your personal brand since you will be able to share your thoughts, knowledge, and perspective to people in-person.

#5: Answer questions, provide value: A thought leader is a problem solver. In order to build a good reputation in your industry, you have to not only talk about ideas but use those ideas to solve problems. When your insights start to become solutions to your audience’s problems, you will eventually gain their respect and boost your status as an expert in your field and as a thought leader. To become a thought leader, you have to share ideas that not only inspire but can produce results for the people in your industry.

#6: Pitch yourself to the media: Lastly, you should be able to pitch yourself to your target audience effectively. You should understand how to promote yourself in such a way that your audience does not get overwhelmed. One of the best ways to pitch yourself is by engaging in public speaking events and answering questions on interviews. If there’s an opportunity to share your insight as an expert, grab it. You would want to get as much exposure as you can.

In Conclusion:

Becoming a thought leader is a process. It’s something that does not happen overnight, but something that you build over time. It also requires you to be genuine in what you say and do. The ideas that you share must speak your truth and must connect to your audience in the most human way possible. Once you understand what it takes to be a thought leader, you will soon be able to spark some change in your industry and the people around you.

Photo credit Dorota Dylka

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