Are you a thought leader? It seems to be the buzz word of this decade, but what is it? Often when we are in business we are focused on the tasks at hand, where is the next product, sale, or income stream coming from. We are so deep into our business that we don’t always stop and think about the legacy we are leaving or the wisdom that we are imparting on others.
Thought Leaders focus on imparting their knowledge and unique expertise onto the future generations of entrepreneurs and businesses. You have years of experience, failures and successes that can be the very information and advice that a younger entrepreneur may need to help them get to the next level.
Thanks to the digital age and online reach, your messages could reach thousands of people worldwide and create the legacy that your business may not.
When I got involved in "Born to Lead" and a chapter was written on my own journey as a business leader and influencer, I remember having to sit down and reflect hard on the challenges, opportunities and learning's that got me to where I am today. It's a cathartic exercise that helps me with my future thinking and imparting knowledge on the entrepreneurs I am fortunate enough to work with today.
So here are three reasons why you should become a Thought Leader:
1. Giving back to the business community
If you want your business to be more than just a money maker for you then thought leadership can be instrumental in helping you give back. This will give your business a higher purpose and mission. You can then get your mission and messages in front of thousands of people. Your hindsight can become the next generations foresight.
2. Brings your team together
When your team members see you as a trusted expert they start to buy into what you are trying to achieve in your business. When you become a Thought Leader it starts to give you greater clarity around your purpose and direction, your team will pick up on this and it will help give the team a vision that will inspire them.
3. Raise the profile of your business
Raising your profile will help your company become more visible and this in turn will help grow your business. Becoming a thought leader in your industry will bring attention to your business and grow your brand awareness and increase the positive association with your business. You may find that you attract larger and more profitable clients.
Related: Do these 50 things to become a better Entrepreneur
So how do you become a Thought Leader?
As someone who has been in the accounting industry advising businesses for more than 25 years, this is a question I’ve been asked many times. Here are some of my tips that may help you get started.
1. Figure out what you're an expert in
Great thought leaders understand their niche. You want to provide insight into areas of your expertise that your followers engage with. Delivering honest content and "good, bad and ugly" stories about your own journey helps contribute to your industry and build content that challenges other people's thinking.
2. Being authentic will make people sit up and listen, because they know it’s real.
What have you learned in all your time doing what you do? Imagine you want to impart this knowledge at a big industry event. You prepare a speech, you read it twice and then cross off the bits you think people would find boring. Maybe it's a personal failure your nervous about sharing or a success story that makes you feel like you are boasting, either way this is your big mistake. These are precisely the stories you should be sharing. Being authentic is what draws the crowds in and helps people learn from your experience.
3. Be disruptive.
Genuine thought leadership has to be disruptive. It’s about having an opinion that is authentically yours and then standing by it, and not being afraid to answer anyone that wants to challenge your voice. All of which is important in giving the reader knowledge and different perspectives.
Once you have your content or at least a plan of the content that you want to start sharing then you need to look at how you are going to share and distribute it. You could consider doing this through social media, a website and finding others in the industry who would be willing to share the information to their followers.
4. Leading with your Legacy in mind
“Leadership is the act of making things better for others.” - Andrew Thorn
You know your industry inside out, and your colleagues already come to you for advice. But you are yet to solidify the legacy messages you want to share.
Ask yourself: As a result of your stewardship, what will remain long after you leave?
The most important gift we can give to the future generation of entrepreneurs and businesses is a piece of ourselves - our guidance, ideas and inspiration.
Try to find your own path to inspire others and remember that thought leadership is not about how many people in the world have heard of you, it is about how people have benefited from your footprint.
Becoming a Thought Leader takes preparation, smarts, and generosity of spirit. Are you up for the challenge?