“Do you want to become someone who can move and inspire others with your innovative ideas, (and) turn those ideas into reality?” This is the provocative question posed by Denise Brosseau in her new book, “Ready to Be a Thought Leader: How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success.”
A thought leader is someone who is regarded as an authority in their field and is someone whom others follow. The question is, how exactly does one become a thought leader? Especially as it is a title that can only credibly be bestowed by your peers, and not one you can give yourself.
In order to earn the moniker, it’s not enough to simply be good at what you do, or even be the best at what you do. Being a thought leader also requires originality and reach. Put another way, the best watchmaker in the land is not necessarily a thought leader, but the person who is advocating for the 100-minute hour and successfully gaining converts to their new time-telling system most definitely is.
As CEO of Thought Leadership Lab, Brosseau specializes in helping executives and business owners become thought leaders in their chosen fields and has seen the process accelerate careers and attract customers. Her approach involves a series of steps, all built on the foundation of identifying your arena. She encourages clients to begin their journey by identifying their “intersection point,” which is where their interests, expertise, credibility and commitment all line up.
Where to begin: Think about the industry you’re in. What are the current standards? And where does your point of view differ from this majority view?
What possibility excites you so much that you would risk offending people in order to spread the word?
What are you already known for? When you Google yourself, what keywords and themes emerge from the results? What do you write, blog, post and tweet about?
Test yourself: Brosseau poses the following as a way of assessing your readiness to move forward on the thought leadership path:
• I can clearly define my niche – where I want to be the recognized, go-to person.
• I have a clear view of the future that I’d like to bring about.
• I focus on big ideas that inspire and engage others.
• I understand the key trends in my industry or field and align my efforts with those trends.
Once you find your driving passion, you’re ready for next steps, which include building your platform, codifying your ideas and intellectual property, and passing the baton to others. Ultimately, successful thought leaders leave behind a legacy of a changed world.
Jennie Wong, Ph.D., is a Charlotte-based executive coach and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com.
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