In our previous blogs we learned what it takes to make a Thought Leader. We know that being knowledgeable and foremost in one’s field of work, is very essential to a thought leader. But just having an idea and that knowledge is not always enough. What you do with that idea and how you implement it is quintessential to the makings of a great Thought Leader.
So this brings us to the next step of how to implement the ideas that one puts forth among your circle of followers and listeners. For this, some kind of creative thinking is required. Is this inherent or can it be developed? To some people creative thinking comes naturally, but for others, it is something that they develop over years. However, all creative thinkers do not make Thought Leaders. So how can aspiring Thought Leaders instill originality in their ideas and thoughts that they share with the community?
There are several ways in which creative thinking can be developed, and, it requires patience!
1. Become an Island – To be a Thought Leader, you need to make time to retreat into your corner of the world every now and then. You need to just sit down and think, mull, and surround yourself with either nothing or just the bare minimum. Once your concept of the idea is clear, let it spread and conquer.
2. Look Within and Without – For an original idea to be forwarded and shared, a thought leader needs to observe silence. During this “period” of silence, a thought leader needs to be more observant of all things around them, what they see, what they hear and listen to. Change one’s routine now and then. By doing this simple exercise, you may just see things differently, and thus the problems can be dealt with using this same technique.
3. Keep a Wide Angle yet Stand Out – A Thought Leader should form their opinions, not in haste, but calmly and collectedly. The period of silence should be able to help formulate your own view point, your own perspective to the problem and have a clear concept. Challenge current perspectives and approaches, but not without showing the way to a new one.
4. Explore – Be adventurous in new approaches and thoughts. Explore every avenue, nook and cranny, to bring originality to the table. Take the untrodden path, difficult and full of dead weeds maybe, but learn to cut a new path. Brainstorm, debate, discuss, with people from various fields, even with a passenger on a train. This opens up new areas of thought.
5. Be Yourself- Every individual has the seed of creativity, that just needs to be nurtured and directional. To learn to nurture your creativity, you need to learn to be yourself. You should develop their own creative style of presentation, rather than imitation. It may be different at first and may seem awkward, but by being yourself, your passion and clarity will shine forth. Simplicity in how you deliver the concept, opinion or idea, will be a winning point, for any one aspiring to be a Thought Leader. And, in Simplicity lies Creativity!
Market Leaders are those who sell ideas and win [...]
Market Leaders are those who sell ideas and win clients. They are the ones who know what the client wants, and will need. Market Leaders are always one step ahead of most people. So yes, at the outset let me say that Market Leaders make great Thought Leaders. On the other hand, Thought Leaders need not make great Market Leaders.
Market Leaders can drive a company’s vision with their research credibility and domain expertise. However, for a Market Leader to be the Great Thought Leader, besides their research credibility and domain expertise, a lot more than marketing of ideas is required.
1. A Sound strategy – For a business to succeed a sound and pragmatic Strategy is required. Limitations need to be taken into account, before selling the idea to the customers or clients. With a focused perspective, a lot can be achieved
2. Building a Network – This is very crucial for a Market Leader. Every market leader needs to have a network of people that help as sounding boards for new ideas
3. Earning the Trust – A Market Leader has to earn the Trust of their Network when they decide to “sell an idea”. For it is on this trust, that people will give thought and pay close attention to the market and respond accordingly with maturity.
4. Practice What You Preach – A Market Leader needs to practice what they preach. Given that Market leaders are in positions of usually giving advice and consultancy to companies and their network, they need to be aware of their own short comings and hence always practice what they preach.
5. Think Long term rather than Short term- In today’s world of Social Media and Marketing, people are often apt to think that people’s memory is short term. If Market Leaders wish to be remembered as great Thought Leaders, then a need to look at this video by Gary Vaynerchuk is a must.
Here is a list of Market Leaders/Marketing Gurus who have also been Great Thought Leaders of their time and are still regarded as such, even today.
Ah this is the fourth and last of the series, “Do I have what it takes to be a Thought Leader?“. Finally I shall focus on the Way to get there. So far we have seen, the basic characteristics, the why, and the how of Thought leadership.
There is no single path to get to being a Thought Leader. There are many! One of the first things that you need to remember is that, you can be a Thought Leader, and it is solely up to you! There is no right way or wrong way – but it should never be by hook or crook!
When you study the way a Bamboo Grows, it teaches you a lot more than just the way to being a Thought Leader.
The Way Forward:
Keep a Multi Disciplinary Outlook: Be an expert in your field, simultaneously understand and build your knowledge base with regards to other related fields of your discipline. Specialization is fine. But, having a wholesome understanding of your field as well related fields gives you a better advantage when it comes to problem solving, and arrive at creative solutions
Be the Focus: Thought Leaders do not always grow vertically, they are usually the focus, the center point around which not just a circle, but interlocking circles grow. This does not mean that you become the focus, but, be like a magnet and draw the attention of people in your field. Let it come naturally. Let them rally around you, turn to you for solutions.
Maintain Ethical and Moral Behavior: Never ever promote a solution or idea as your own, if it is not original. Always acknowledge and credit the originator who laid the seed of the idea from which a solution has been arrived at. Humility is always respected among great leaders. Once in the eye of followers, you need to maintain your credibility with behavior that is acceptable.
Self Reflect: At every stage in your life, self reflection is a must. Keep in mind You are not indispensable! Knowledge is changing every minute, and you may not always be able to deliver every time. Your quest to serve others should take precedence over one’s own desire for power or maintaining status quo.
Keep Ears and Eyes Grounded: Never put yourself too high, so that you become unreachable. Great kings have always moved among their citizens, learning the problems and finding ways to solve them. No problem brought to you should be too small to solve.
The Middle Path: Thought Leaders often find themselves at crossroads and that is the most crucial test for them. Many lose their way to egoism or external gratification. Thought Leaders need to know when to bow down, and when to stand tall- like the spirit of a bamboo.
People may prescribe many ways to get to being a Thought Leader. But do realize this, that if it is in you, and you passionately serve the needs of others, share, and keep your horizons in check, self reflect, and be humble – the path towards being a Thought Leader has already been laid. You need to strive towards it, and it will gradually build around you. And always pay heed to people around you. It is in keeping true to yourself that you maintain credibility and earn your stars as a Thought Leader!
To continue with our series- “Do I have what it takes to be a Thought Leader?”, today I address the Why Do I want to be a Thought Leader?
So now do the shoes and the robes of a Thought Leader wrap gently around you? And does it feel good to know that you too can have the makings of a Thought Leader?
Yes, its not that difficult, but should I? And if I should, what difference will it make and to whom?? Remember, neither are all Famous people Thought Leaders, nor are all Thought Leaders famous! So where does that leave me??
Do take time to read this gentle yet evocative little book by Richard Bach, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull“, (including his other books like Illusions and There’s No Such Place as So Far Away). You will certainly find your answer/s to, Why should I even think of becoming a Thought Leader?, besides the reasons given below.
- Make A difference to the “I” in me – A Thought Leader is someone who, when they speak their mind with conviction at once draws people to listen to them. We all like to be heard at sometime or the other when we feel most passionate about something and believe that we have something good to offer. So if you want to project your thoughts, make change, then you need to project yourself as a Thought Leader, at least for that moment in the Universe. People listen to Thought Leaders. Yes, people also listen to the pundits of any discipline or field who are not always Thought Leaders, but because they are in certain positions to do so. So if YOU want to bring change to the way things are done, then start thinking about how You can get people listen to what you have to say, no matter how small the field is or how down the ladder you are. Because the “I” in me matters!
- Recognition – I know I can make a difference. I know my field and I am an expert. But then so are thousand of others, experts in their field. The reason you wish to become a Thought Leader is to gain recognition for the work done in your field. If you do not gain recognition for work you have done, then that work in itself is a waste. Every drop counts in the ocean, so make what you do count and hence stand up and be recognized for the work done, if not for oneself.
- Self-motivation – There is no medicine like self-motivation to keep you going. Once you recognize that you have what it takes to be a Thought Leader, then motivation is the sure cure to get you moving to achieve bigger things in life. Don’t wait for external motivation, set goals and motivate yourself.
- Bring Focus – Once you get a taste of what it takes to being a Thought Leader, the need to develop focus on the problem at hand looms large. Focus helps one to zero right into the core problem and deliver solutions methodologically and with ease.
- Bring creativity to work – Day in and day out you keep working, and the output will just be regurgitated content. So if you want to put some fun back into your life and work, bring creativity to your work. Creative solutions are always the most sought after as they usually bring a different perspective, giving others a chance to think differently. Now realise I did not say originality, because, all Thought Leaders did not always bring originality, they often reworked the same idea in a different way, they brought a different perspective.
- To realise my Dream – We all dream! Big or small dreams- doesn’t matter. But to realise that we need to think differently, we need to realise our potential and to push ourselves beyond our own limits to achieve that dream.
So, a Thought Leader does not have to be someone who is famous, but you too can become a Thought Leader in your own way, not just to differentiate you from the crowd, but for oneself. To find joy in what you do, to do things well, and realise your own potential- that is why you need to think “Thought Leadership” - It’s all in the “I Think, Therefore I Can!”
And when each person realises that each of them can be Thought Leaders in their own little ways, you surround yourself and others with a positive field, which can bring only positive results for the greater good! That’s why Thought Leaders are required in all walks of life!
I plan to write a series of articles on “Do I have what [...]
I plan to write a series of articles on “Do I have what it takes to be a Thought Leader?” Here I will address what it takes to be a “Thought Leader” – the essential characteristics, the why, the how, and the way to get there.
In the first article, I will raise the questions necessary for the first baby step towards being a Thought Leader.
“Cogito ergo sum” translates from Latin to “I think, therefore I am” by Rene Descartes. The simple meaning is that, if someone doubts if they exist or not, in itself, is proof that they exist – the least, there must be an “I” that does the thinking.
The very basic premise of Thought Leadership is thought that has been put into action. Every living creature does this. If you are hungry, then you seek out something to eat. But what makes a “Leader” different from those who carry out such simple actions? Are Leaders only those who stand out and stand tall among their peers? Humans created the wheel, but the way they put it to use distinguishes them from the rest of the Animal Kingdom. Fire was a known element that was dangerous to lives. But when humans started engaging it for more positive uses, this put them on a better footing, than among their animal cousins – helped them survive.
Humans have the innate ability to not just think and act, but also improvise. Creativity is not just a manifestation of nature, but the positive use an individual can mould it into. This is basic trait that is essential for being recognized as someone who can take action. Act and improvise without fear of failure on a thought that is different and provides a solution to the problem.
A Thought Leader has been stated to be an expert who adds something new to a field of endeavor, not just an expert. You can become an expert with practice, and there may be many experts in your specific field. But what would make you be called a Thought Leader in your field? If you created something new, added something enhancing to your field of expertise, that nobody has yet envisaged or implemented, then would that entitle you to being called a Thought Leader? Yes, keep improvising or implementing on ideas that others may not have succeeded in taking them further. A new perspective can always lead to new solutions.
Knowledge is power. So if you retain the knowledge of something you have created that none has created before, will that define you as a “Thought Leader”? Competition is good, but will it have any credence to your creation once that goes viral? Will you fear the loss of your title “Thought Leader” once it is out of your hands? So, Keep sharing, as this is a sure way to get people to keep turning to you for ideas and solutions.
Seven Steps to A Basic Checklist to try and see if you can fit into the shoes of a Thought Leader:(they may pinch at first, but no gain without some pain)
1. Awaken all your Senses.
2. Act upon what You Think & Dream.
3. Keep At It – discuss, brainstorm, don’t sit on your idea.
4. Improvise on ideas. Don’t let old or new ideas stagnate.
5. Go with the flow, but think different.
6. Expert is fine, but always have many solutions to a single problem.
7. Share! Share! Share! – this will attract people to you
Not so difficult, if you think about it, right?
Remember Thought Leaders are not always those who are the first to come up with the idea, but those who made it work, without fear of failure or success. They just did it! Passion and Motivation will never let you down!
Come join me in this journey towards planting the seed of a Thought Leader in each of us. No doubt each of us will always have something to contribute that can bring change, but only if we let it enter into us and flow from us.