The Ready to Be a Thought Leader?
Are you ready to expand your influence, increase your professional success, have an impact far beyond a single organization and industry, and ultimately leave a legacy that matters? Then you are ready to be a thought leader. Below is the 7-step framework outlined in Ready to Be a Thought Leader? that will help you make your own journey from leader to thought leader.
Step 1: Find Your Driving Passion
Thought leadership starts with focus and passion. You will be far more effective if you identify the one arena where your interests, expertise, credibility and commitment align –- your "thought leadership intersection point." Next, you will craft a clear What If? future, a possible future that you are committed to bring about. When you identify and align to key trends you will gain momentum and be well on your way to make a significant difference not only in your company or community but across your industry or niche.
Step 2: Build Your Ripples of Influence
To build your first ripples of change, you’ll test your ideas and opinions (often not yet fully baked) with knowledgeable stakeholders –- colleagues, mentors and friends –- gather their input, and continually refine your thinking. By listening to what resonates, you will distill many different points of view into the kernel of a transformative idea that will bring about the What If? future you envision. Those conversations will also inform you how to position and leverage your message to tell a bigger story that gets your first followers on board.
Step 3: Activate Your Advocates
To expand your influence beyond your existing team or organization will require that you attract supporters and well-connected advocates –- community leaders, industry spokespeople, analysts, journalists, research groups or national partners – who can champion your product, program, initiative or idea to a much broader set of audiences. By articulating what’s in it for them, you'll create real momentum for change and move your message out of the reach of naysayers, the people determined to stop any transformation in its tracks.
Step 4: Put Your "I" on the Line
To build sustainable momentum for a new idea requires someone to show the way, someone willing to step into the limelight and say "follow me." To do this, you must be willing to "put your ‘I’ on the line" --- overcoming any self-imposed limits to standing front and center and risking your reputation to espouse a new direction or vision of the future, often long before others agree with your point of view.
Step 5: Codify Your Lessons Learned
The essential difference between leaders and thought leaders is often the latter’s ability to distill their know how into a replicable model so that others can be inspired and empowered to expand on what those leaders have accomplished. To codify your ideas will require that you test and refine a repeatable and scalable blueprint for others who want to follow in your footsteps.
Step 6: Put Yourself on S.H.O.U.T.
To increase your credibility, strategic visibility and reputation and gain recognition as a thought leader, you need to "put yourself on SHOUT" – get the word out about your activities, efforts and lessons learned. You’re not a thought leader if no one knows anything about you or what you’ve accomplished. You need to both be "discoverable" and connect with those who can build on your ideas.
Step 7: Incite (R)Evolution
Has the transformation you’ve envisioned and worked towards begun to take hold? Now it's time to audit your progress to ensure that you gain traction for your ideas locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally. As you accelerate and amplify your voice, you’ll increase your influence, expand your impact and build a sustainable community of followers that will carry forward your efforts. Having followers will help you to prevent burnout as you bring about the evolutionary and even revolutionary change that will be your legacy.
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