CAN YOU BE A THOUGHT LEADER?
Updated: May 29
Thought leadership comes under the larger umbrella of executive presence. Each phase of your career would demand a different kind of presence from you. In one of these phases, you would've moved from being a follower to begin to garner a following. The best way to create followership as an expert and leverage your competence is by being a thought leader.
I nudge my clients to consider thought leadership. They draw a blank when I give them a deadline to begin sharing ideas on social media such as LinkedIn, get published or interviewed.
Now, these are people who are in senior roles in fortune 500 companies, with 20 years or more of experience and having lived outside their countries with global experience spanning more than a couple of continents. They have the richness of experience, knowledge, exposure and also the best views of the future trends in their industry- yet feel unsure about where they should start.
In this article, I will address some of the questions that come up around thought leadership towards building executive presence.
Here I want to give my example and use my experience as a case study. I don’t want to share a client experience because of confidentiality.
I wrote my first article on LinkedIn in 2014 and overtime I continued the practice. I thought nothing of it- just some ways to pen my thoughts and sent it to the world. I did garner some followership but didn’t take notice of how it would impact my career until years later.
( If you're not already following me- I am available here on LinkedIn)
My articles of leadership and presence positioned me for the future and all that I write has a compounded value over time. By this, I mean that what I do now can have an impact year from now or perhaps three years from now. My cumulative work sets me apart and an expert and so can yours.
Thought leadership long-term investment that I made for my brand and this made me an authority in my subject of executive presence. By no means I'm ahead of the curve- but I'm better than having not done writing or posting. If you're late for the party start now and your future self will thank you.
I work with clients from around the world and many of them find me because of an article or a post or a recommendation made by somebody who has read an article or a post.
Fortunately, I get some of the best people to work with- These are people who live and work internationally, from top schools, and work at senior positions in fortune 1000 companies.
Thought leadership is humblebrag! You share and teach what you know so others know that you are an expert.
Somewhere after the phase of apprenticeship look at how you can prepare the next person for a similar journey that you have taken.
Teach, Share, Unlearn, Learn, Teach and Share again.
Here are some faqs about thought leadership.
WHO ARE THOUGHT LEADERS?
Thought leaders take opinions knowledge their experience and frame them to influence clients and stakeholders. They add value to the knowledge that is already existing with the ideas, evidence, opinions and experiences that positions them as an expert.
Thought leaders don’t address themselves or introduce themselves as thought leaders. It is because they know that it is not a destination but a long journey.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A THOUGHT LEADER?
You find your signature voice:
Visibility as a go-to person for the competence you have to share adds to your authority.
The financial advantage:
There is a clear commercial advantage in being a thought leader.
In a world where perception is reality clients are ready to pay for quality and greater service. Thought leaders charge premium rates for the services and visibility shows you’re the organizations or individual that you can sell your ideas.
And as we all know – everybody does work in sales.
Feedback on what matters:
When you put your ideas out you also get feedback from prospects, referrers on what the emerging future trends may be. Engaging with clients and industry authority gives you an understanding of the market pulse.
Your insights make your pitches stronger:
GIYF (Google is your friend). Google may be your friend- just don't depend on her too much. Bring your own style to the table.
Don't just google information and you add thoughts and your unique value to an idea. You will make it easier for your client to see the level of quality and knowledge that you bring to the table.
The competitive advantage:
In a highly competitive world – being a thought leader helps you stand out. You can differentiate yourself from your competition. It is noisy out there- be creative and have the courage to stand out.
WHY WOULD YOU BE THE RIGHT CANDIDATE TO BUILD A PRESENCE AS A THOUGHT LEADER?
If any of these are true you may want to consider thought leadership as a way to promote your work and contribution to the world.
· You understand the trends of how trends are going to impact your industry.
· You are developing services that reflect our clients' future requirements
· Your competence can help you contribute towards future trends.
· You have a lot of ideas that you can share with your clients and stakeholders
· You are regularly accomplishing at work and it can help you strengthen your reputation
· There is something that sets you apart. You are bringing something special to the table.
· You are positioning yourself and planning for the future.
WHAT CONSTITUTES THOUGHT LEADERSHIP?
Here are few tips that you can share.
Share an idea that is your intellectual property. You own it!
The original idea was the research that I did where executive presence was holding back those looking to move ahead in their career. There is research that 89% of career success is influenced by presence.
Upcycling old ideas:
Take an old idea and add a sprinkle of a new different perspective- which is your perspective based on evidence garnered by you.
I am an executive presence coach in Hong Kong. I'm not the first one to be in the world (I am not sure about Hong Kong as I work globally) one but my approach is different. I look at a psychodynamic approach to creating presence.
Whatever you may be doing you can add your own style to it.
Why would you think something would add value? The evidence of why it would matter to someone. Share your whys!
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
✅Do you have expertise & experience in the industry you work in?
✅Do you have an opinion about the industry or a related subject?
✅Are you interested in building long-term relationships? Not looking for a get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme?
✅Can use the social media platform to speak or voice your ideas? Hint: Think where your audience hangs out
If you have checked these are yes...