The last year and a half saw large amounts of change. Now more than ever, there is a focus on the importance of the ability to acclimate to new developments. Companies across the globe are aware of the increasing need to keep up with — or even better, stay ahead of — the curve. One way they are doing this is through the implementation of thought leadership.
Using a thought leader will help convey new, cutting-edge ideas that promote innovation and adaptability. There are a number of characteristics that a thought leader should have, but there are a few that are absolutely necessary. Here are the top traits you need to show you are a thought leader, and can successfully inspire employees within a company.
What Exactly is a Thought Leader?
A thought leader is someone who people look to for authoritative perspectives on subjects that they are passionate about. A thought leader will possess original ideas and insights and will communicate those concepts to employees to inspire transformation. In order for thought leadership to be lucrative, there are skills a thought leader ought to master.
Top Thought Leader Skills
The first skill that you need to display as an effective thought leader is the ability to listen. In order to give great ideas, a thought leader first needs to understand the existing conversations around that topic. You must be aware of the views held by fellow industry leaders or other employees within the company. American entrepreneur Robert F. Smith once said, “We’re looking for those intellectually curious executives who can take feedback, who can take information and relate it to their markets and be an expert in that market.” If you’re a thought leader you will fully consider the established conversation surrounding a subject and from there, move the conversation forward. You can understand past developments and effectively use those insights to create an unprecedented vision for the future.
After taking the time to hear the voices of other employees and fellow innovators, you can demonstrate thought leadership by taking matters into your own hands to develop a deeper comprehension of what has been done before and what still needs to be done moving forward. Research for thought leaders goes beyond gathering information that is already accessible; it is not a regurgitation of past discoveries. This research involves taking those findings within your target market and expanding on them to form entirely new concepts. Ask yourself, where is the right place to begin your research? Initiate conversations with trusted colleagues to help you conceive unthought-of ideas, and offer fresh insights to ultimately help establish your credibility.
Once you have gathered your knowledge, you will be ready to dive deeper into your findings. Analysis of research is a key step in your journey to becoming a thought leader. To be able to inspire groundbreaking initiatives, you must not simply be aware of past findings but evaluate those findings. It is your responsibility to decipher between useful insight that supports innovation versus old ideas that will not bring any growth or improvement to your company. Your role as a thought leader is to determine what is relevant to convey to those whom you are trying to reach.
4. Think Critically
Your ability to analyze and highlight pieces of knowledge that encourage innovation within your company comes only with the ability to think critically. As a thought leader, your capacity to take a step back from facts and statistics and decide what you believe to be valuable is crucial. You are guiding employees through unexplored terrain when you take on the role of a thought leader, so it is imperative that you do not jump to conclusions quickly, or blindly move forward. Rather, you must interpret the information you receive and decide how it best fits into your beliefs and overall mission as a thought leader. Trust your judgement; it is a major component of thinking critically. Use critical to ensure you will fuel growth in targeted areas.
In the words of former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, “Leadership is solving problems. The day [people] stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” One of the most telling skills of a thought leader is the ability to secure the confidence of your employees.Then you can inspire real change within your organization. You must prove to them that you understand the current situation and have a vision for the future. It is essential for you to act as a support system for solving problems, but you also need to lead the problem solving process in a progressive way. Your role as a thought leader is to be willing to lead people through unique thought processes and perhaps non traditional methods.
A thought leader must have the ability to effectively communicate. You must be able to share past experiences and learned insights; however, you should do this while simultaneously incorporating your pioneering thought processes. Sharing past findings in combination with your own educated opinions can empower others to not only change their current views but also prompt them to originate outlooks of their own. As more people begin independently thinking critically, more ideas will be contributed to the whole discussion, encouraging faster rates of innovation.
Besides knowledge, you must also share your time and energy with colleagues by actively listening to their opinions. You will serve as a resource for your team, and the best way to do this is to give them the attention they need to feel heard and understood. Any good leader knows that success is only achieved with the help of their team. Therefore, you must involve everyone when the company experiences success. While remaining open with your employees when goals are not met so that focus can be shifted to the right place for future efforts.