1. Don’t try, seek or set out to be a Thought Leader. You earn this honorable designation when the world dubs you so. Furthermore, being a Thought Leader isn’t an intentional goal – it’s an incidental consequence.
As leadership professor Warren Bennis say in On Becoming a Leader: “People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves freely and fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders. So, the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself. To use yourself completely. All your skills. All your gifts, and energies – in order to make you vision manifest.” Are you trying or becoming?
2. Build an enrollment. That’s your mission: To enroll people in your thinking, vision, dream, philosophy and theory of the universe. Then, on an ongoing basis, to deliver unique value in a respectful, permission-based way.
Now, I understand that the idea of building an enrollment may sound too grandiose, too celebrity-ish and too impossible to the average businessperson. “Who am I to build an enrollment?” you think. Wrong question. Instead, ask yourself, “Am I being selfish with my knowledge?” Whom are you enrolling?
3. Notice things and give them names. Everyone has heard everything before. So, if there is nothing new under the sun, what do you say? Here’s your first clue: Create names, designations, acronyms and titles for the things you notice. Make them original, creative and consistent with the branding of your philosophy. These names are your content, your products, your branding, your expertise, your marketing, your technology, your philosophies and your differentiators.
As Thought Leader Seth Godin says, “Part of the challenge in breaking through is finding a niche you can overwhelm.” Remember: When you name something, you can do something about that something. You can begin exploration and working with that something. You can help people talk about that something. You can change people’s thinking about that something. I named “approachability.” What are you naming?
4. Take contrarian stances to as many ideas as you can. Try this: Make a list of all the conventional wisdom, traditional principles and standard operating procedures you disagree with or oppose to. Then explain why their way is stupid and yours is better. Here’s an example from one of my blog posts from earlier this year:
“Customers are overrated, clients are useless and prospects are for amateurs. You need FANS, and you need to give them megaphones.”
The best part is, when you 180 existing ideas and express them in a new way, you challenge people to think in a new way. You toggle their melons. That’s what leaders do. They walk with a constant posture of challenging the process. Do you pattern your thinking in ways that are inimical to conventional wisdom?
5. Constantly strrenghten your platform. Platform is EVERYTHING. It’s the single most important attribute of Thought Leadership. It’s a combination of your intellectual assets, visibility, network, notoriety, permission assets, credibility and positioning.
And the best part is, proper positioning through powerful platforming prevents the need for prospecting. Because clients come to YOU. On the hand, if you don’t have a platform, you may as well be winking in the dark. Because no matter how smart you are, you will be the only one that notices. Yikes. How strong is your Thought Leadership Platform?
REMEMBER: There is no finish line.
If you want to be a Thought Leader, you’ve got to work at it every single day.
Your followers are waiting.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you establishing a sustainable Thought Leadership Position?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the (full) checklist called, “45 Recession-Friendly Strategies for Entreprenerial Evolution,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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