What you talking about, Willis?


For those who don’t remember the tagline, it’s from the T.V. show, Different Strokes. Thought Leadership falls under that category, not for everyone.

Pardon my unoriginality, but here is an excellent definition of thought leadership (no, not Webster’s).

Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. They create a dedicated group of friends, fans and followers to help them replicate and scale those ideas into sustainable change not just in one company but in an industry, niche or across an entire ecosystem.

Denise Brosseau, Ready to Be a Thought Leader?

Let’s Break That Down

That’s a lot to digest. I am not suggesting the path is easy. I am suggesting the journey is worthwhile.

Let’s give it a go.

Informed and Go-To People

How do you stay informed? You roll up your sleeves and dig in. Knowledge is built over time and involves reading, attending events, watching videos, taking classes, and exchanging ideas with others. It also requires experience. What you see and do informs what you say.

Your willingness to help others and answer questions gets you to go-to status. Your ability to solve problems and improve things is another component. Communication is essential.

Trusted Source, Inspirational, Innovative

Responsiveness and caring, plus your track record of problem-solving, get you trust. Inspiration means you lead by example and communicate both your failures and successes. Innovation is that box thing. You know, the one you think outside of.

How you solve problems and your ability to explain your take on things will show your ingenuity. Your ability to help others “see around corners” or have a fresh perspective on the problems they face will keep them coming back.

Make It Real and Show How to Replicate It

No ivory tower for you. Some people are great at coming up with ideas, then slow to act on them. You need to keep moving, putting your thoughts into action. Sharing how you did it makes it possible for others to benefit from your success.

Having once worked for a journal that published research studies, here’s what I saw. A group of people would try to replicate the initial study and couldn’t, leading to the publication of a new study that determined all that was wrong with the first. You don’t want to be the person who did the first study unless you provide enough detail to assure the next group’s success.

Friends, Fans, and Followers

You know a lot. You help people. You are trusted, inspire others, and innovate. You produce and act on ideas and communicate to others how they can enjoy the same success. How could you not attract others?

Friend Rich Lucia advocates the 180 Rule. Think about what you could do to fail. Maybe keep your audience small? Maybe you do a bad job of sharing what you know? There is probably some publishing and speaking in your future. By getting the word out, people will want to know you and enjoy the value that you bring.

Industry, Niche, Ecosystem

Here’s the best part. You may have many of the above components in place, based on your success. Check through the qualities described above and see what needs attention. Why is this the best part?

To be a thought leader, you don’t have to make front page news. The size of your audience can vary. Industry – size varies; Niche – could be small; Ecosystem – probably extensive.

Want to Know More?

Since Denise Brosseau inspired this piece with a single paragraph, she is somebody of whom you should be aware. She is a meta thought leader: a thought leader about thought leadership.

Click here to go to her website and learn more about what it means to be a thought leader. She has also written a highly regarded book: Ready to Be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success.