The Thought Leader is the ultimate expression of modern leadership, and in digital it is evolving because of the ability to share one's knowledge.
Thought Leader, have you ever heard of it?
Perhaps reading here and there you have yet come across this seemingly somewhat difficult term and wondered what exactly it means.
In fact, I myself mention it when I talk about authority (as in this article on the 4 steps to acquire it)-and you will quickly understand why.
Perhaps the word "leader" is a little more familiar to you: we can say, in general, that it is a point of reference for the people around him.
Here, the Thought Leader is, literally, a "thought leader"-a person who is recognized as an expert and authoritative in his or her field, who can be relied upon in times of need and whose opinions are perceived as relevant.
It is a concept that has to do with one's reputation and trust from customers and is an essential element of the Content Marketing.
If you are not clear about this, read on: I want to help you out and explain who a thought leader is and what exactly he or she does.
Who is the Thought Leader
Imagine walking a trail for the first time. Since you don't know what to expect, you will need a guide with certain characteristics: he or she will need to have walked that same route before, know any obstacles you may encounter, help you not to get lost, and spur you on to the summit.
This is a Thought Leader: someone who has already traveled that road and can show you with confidence.
He is a person recognized as authoritative and reliable in his field, who deeply understands the business in which he operates and the needs of his clients. His opinion becomes a point of reference for others, on whom it has a real and lasting impact.
One does not usually self-proclaim oneself as a thought leader: one is regarded as such by others because of one's achievements and shared strategies.
How does he convey these skills and competencies? He does so through the dissemination of ideas and insights, i.e., of valuable content (hence the link to content marketing), receiving trust and earnings in return.
The Thought Leader is the third stage, the highest, in the pyramid of authority. Returning to the example before, he is the one who conquers a peak before everyone else and puts a flag with his name on it: thus he can position his brand uniquely and distinctively, becoming attractive in the eyes of the public (If you want to learn more about the brand positioning, I recommend you read this article).
It is a key step to success.
What characteristics does the Thought Leader have
Typical characteristics of a thought leader are:
- Having a special expertise;
- Addressing your specific niche;
- Engage your audience;
- Raising awareness around certain topics;
- Inspiring different points of view;
- Formulating innovative ideas;
- Have a clear and defined perspective;
- Stimulating comparison.
For a thought leaders history, lived experience, and how they relate to one's work are important. This allows one to have a clear and focused point of view on the topic and to be able to propose new solutions to old problems.
Furthermore, a thought leader does not necessarily have to operate alone. In addition to a following of followers, he or she can collaborate with other Thought Leaders or professionals who deal with complementary topics, increasing his or her own value and credibility.
The Thought Leader can come from any background, but not everyone can be one. Thought leadership takes a long time; the starting point is having a great product or service, knowing how to communicate it, and building a strong and loyal community.
The key always remains the use of content marketing to increase one's authority and influence.
What does the Thought Leader do
He communicates his story and experiences to provide value to the people who follow him and to help them solve their problems. It wants to educate, inform, and engage its audience, which it does primarily through the web and social media.
He tries to define his clients' challenges, but more importantly, he explains to them how to succeed in overcoming them: he offers answers and solutions to specific audiences through different approaches.
This allows him to show himself as an expert in the field, thus as the right person/company to trust; thus he strengthens his brand reputation, acquires new customers, keeps loyal those who already follow him, and grows his business.
But be careful: one should not fall into the trap of self-centeredness.
Indeed, it is not about selling or promoting yourself or your products, but about demonstrating that you are able to help others overcome their difficulties, because you have already gone through that and know what it means (and how to get out of it).
I recommend you read the book "Ready to Be a Thought Leader: How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success." By Denise Brosseau.
It is necessary to demonstrate the ability to give before asking.
It is a role that is built over time-you certainly cannot become one overnight. It takes skill and tenacity to show that one's voice deserves to be heard.
Certainly, on the road to authority, being Thought Leader is the ultimate goal to want to achieve as a guarantee of the quality of one's business.
In summary, the Thought Leader Is the one who, in a given context:
- Knows what to do to achieve a goal;
- knows a method for doing so;
- has worked out its own system, thanks to its product or service, to obtain it.
The benefit of this is precisely authority, which allows one to stand out and be chosen among many.
As I told you, being a thought leader requires patience and tenacity.
In the meantime, you can do two things: one, work on yourself, researching and developing yourself in your current field, training, gaining experience and gaining respect; two, produce and share valuable content, creating a following on the web and around you, establishing a dialogue with people where you show yourself as an expert person who can give them effective advice.
Finally, remember: thought leaders are also those who know how to inspire others to take action, to take the next step in their journey, knowing that there will be failures or setbacks, but that they will be necessary to achieve their goals.