Denise Brosseau has written one of the most comprehensive books about thought leadership now available. Her book, Ready to Be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success, explores what it means to be a thought leader, the many benefits that can be derived by being a thought leader, whether an individual or an organization, and even the risks of being a thought leader.
The following are some questions and answers from Denise about thought leadership:
Denise, how do you define a thought leader?
Thought leaders are informed opinion leaders. They have become a trusted source for information in their fields and industries. But more than this, they move and inspire people. Thought leaders provide innovative ideas that help others succeed. Invariably, and over time, thought leaders have devoted fans, friends, and followers, and in many cases, entire industries take heed — and follow — what they have to say.
Can anyone become a thought leader?
While leaders unquestionably come in all shapes and sizes and ages, genders, and ethnicities, that does not mean that anyone can be a leader. It just means the door is open to anyone willing to take the time — and has the stamina — to become a thought leader and share their knowledge and expertise in a particular field.
It also depends on their level of commitment and their willingness to buck the status quo — leaders are no longer followers but offer new insights into how things can be done and accomplished in the future.
For organizations, thought leadership is easier if they have an excellent product, provide an exceptional service, or are viewed as remarkably innovative. However, it still takes time, fortitude, and momentum to become a successful thought leader; again, whether an organization or an individual.
What are the benefits of being a thought leader?
When leaders develop their visibility and their thoughts are viewed as important to others in an industry, that’s when they can become rainmakers. They attract customers and clients. If the leader is an organization, thought leadership can help them sell more products and services. They can expect other companies and organizations to come to them wanting to partner on projects of importance. Thought leadership, we should add, can take on a life of its own, with more benefits evolving over time.
Further, as the momentum grows, being in the spotlight brings an assortment of benefits that can build upon one another. For individuals, being a thought leader can result in a promotion, a better job, an award, an interview in a respected publication such as the Wall Street Journal, and unexpected invitations from leading organizations. Further, being a thought leader can leave a lasting legacy on individuals, industries, and governments. For many thought leaders, this is one of their goals. These thought leaders want to bring about lasting change.
Denise, you say there are risks to being a thought leader. Could you expand on that?
Thought leaders are not always appreciated. Whether individuals or organizations, others can see them as competitors. They might start sending some not so pretty but still painful arrows in their direction. Along with the arrows just mentioned, being in the spotlight is not always easy.
Those considering being thought leaders must realize that the journey may require them to “put their ‘I’ on the line.”
However, invariably there are many people, organizations, and industries just calling for a new view and direction. Your ideas and direction might fill this void. And just consider this: if its not you, then who?
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For more than twenty years, Robert Kravitz and his firm, AlturaSolutions Communications, has been collaborating with people and organizations, helping them become and then excel as Thought Leaders in their respective industries. He can be reached at LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kravitzrobert.