Thought leaders in today’s industries are often experts in their respective fields, who are seen in the public eye consistently. Whether through public speaking, social media, op-eds, public relations, or social impact campaigns, effective thought leaders are even willing to go as far as evoking some controversy to drive public conversation. To be a true thought leader you have to make an impact and leave people with something worth remembering that they are inclined to want to share.
Over the past decade, the team here at Main & Rose has worked tirelessly to identify and grow the top thought leadership experts globally within all kinds of organizations and industries. The priority when delivering our services is developing platforms that propel these individuals to the top of their occupations or organizations while driving sales and awareness for the brands they represent or in many cases have founded or led. Below, we explore what it means to be a thought leader and share the strategies we use to build specific leadership skills.
What Makes A Thought Leader?
Typically, thought leaders are most successful when consistently delivering well-crafted messaging that resonates with specific audiences or markets. Depending on the market, this messaging often involves educating followers on a range of topics. Delivering value matters. A message worth sharing is spread far, and that’s how a strong thought-leadership following is truly grown and sustained. Some common categories we focus on where thought leadership ideals can be most influential and spread include:
- Improving workflow and processes
- Increasing team efficiency
- Raising capital
- Making a difference in your organization
- Living a happier, healthier lifestyle
These are topics people care about and an influential thought leader will have the ability to take simple ideas and translate them into success, both for themselves and their growing following. We also find the best candidates for leadership positions will possess a few particular qualities that reflect their reliability as a leader and these are important to understand if you are interested in becoming a thought-leader or need to appoint someone in your company to be one.
Becoming an Industry Expert
Every company or organization should have someone appointed to a thought leadership position. Why? Well, because thought leaders drive new business and enhance growth for enterprises. Thought leaders can propel small brands into big arenas, and it’s a big mistake to go without someone in this position.
At the core of all effective thought leadership is the idea that those holding positions of power in an organization have the highest skill and expertise in their respective industries or fields. Thought leaders need to have a reliable understanding of various resources and processes within a particular sector and be able to relay information consistently, confidently and persuasively.
An established thought leader will have achieved significant success which ensures they will be taken seriously. Typically, we advise our clients to look to their C-suite or founding team for the best candidates and we select and evaluate from that realm first. Many are founders or visionaries who have built or are leading brands. We also work with many Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Impact Officers, or Chief Creative Officers as they are often passionate, charismatic and well spoken about their brands and the impact the brands have on the world. There are a few significant driving factors that contribute to a high-quality thought leader in any field, including:
- Position held within an organization
- Education, including continuing education
- Certifications and accreditations
- Awards or honors
- Membership within respected industry-related organizations
- Publications in professional journals or other media outlets
- Recognition of accomplishments by renowned organizations or other experts
- Existing media and press presence
- Speaking and communications ability
- Charisma factor
It takes significant effort and continuing education to maintain an effective thought leader’s most influential and positive aspects. We also often find one person within an organization that typically stands out because they possess the last point above — what we call the charisma factor.
The most successful thought leaders tend to have a natural ability to attract and capture the attention of others. However, we stress that anyone can rise to the responsibilities the role of effective thought leadership requires. With effort and education or polishing up your leadership skills, just about anyone can drive sales, raise awareness, and grow an organization.
Alternatively, it remains true that some common qualities of thought leaders are innate. If you possess a natural inclination to innovate and excel in your field, you might find yourself fitting the mold of the most effective kinds of thought leaders in today’s modern workforce.
7 Traits of an Effective Thought Leader
The best thought leaders will possess a few overarching qualities that can encourage others to reach their full potential. Remember that excellent thought leadership is always adding value and sharing things that can significantly impact and inspire others is key. The ideas and stories thought leaders share should be things that people want to be, to replicate and share repeatedly.
Compelling thought leaders also utilize these specific traits and characteristics to create a positive working environment where everyone can feel valued. Consider these key qualities of a strong thought leader to see if you have what it takes to excel and inspire as an expert thought leader in your industry:
No one wants to work on a project or team with people who aren’t passionate about their work. Thought leaders should possess high levels of passion and utilize it to inspire other team members. It’s impossible to become a well-respected thought leader without having an ardent appreciation for your occupation. Passion is contagious and will make a thought leader memorable and inspiring.
Originality is another crucial characteristic of competent thought leaders. As an industry expert, it’s expected that you develop unique and innovative ideas almost every day. Although mentorship from another professional is an excellent way to improve your skills, original thought processes and strategies should take top priority.
The best thought leaders speak incredibly well in public or spend extensive time learning this crucial skill. Thought leaders will command an audience’s attention, causing people to lean in and listen intently whenever they speak.
The ability to engage an audience is key to effective thought leadership. Storytelling is a skill much like anything else, as it can be taught and mastered. The best thought leaders use story-telling and speaking in a way that works for whatever market the audience may belong within.
Public speaking is undeniably one of the most essential skills for an effective leader in any industry. As a thought leader, delivering any message must be eloquent and articulate, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
Articulation and enthusiasm go hand-in-hand when it comes to having the qualities of a tenacious thought leader. Employees in your organization will feed off such spirit, inspiring teams to reach new heights with ideas, innovation, and collaboration. Several small changes can make a significant impact on your business or organization’s vigor. Consider implementing these simple ideas to see how they affect your team’s excitement on the job:
- Set different goals and celebrate wins of any size
- Affirm and reward excellent work performance
- Build confidence by correcting mistakes, not with discipline or negative reinforcement
- Celebrate employee strengths and successes
- Make time for team-building activities and, of course, fun!
Infusing enthusiasm into the day-to-day workflow of an organization can foster authentic inclusivity in the workplace. Create an environment where employees feel valued, encouraged and can enjoy their work with a little bit of brightness and enthusiasm.
See how we celebrate wins with storytelling here at Main & Rose in this case study.
Unfortunately, it’s almost inevitable that any company or organization can make it without a few hiccups or bumps in the road. When issues arise, an effective thought leader will always listen to advise if it’s needed and then take the reins and lead by example, showing resilience when the going gets tough. As a thought leader you must take charge and utilize your strong leadership skills to set things right, whether with internal employees or your company’s most important clients.
Another important quality every thought leader should possess is a powerful sense of curiosity. Taking charge and finding unique solutions to problems will enhance productivity. Encourage employees to continue being actively involved and curious about your organization’s processes.
The best thought leaders in any industry are those who take unconventional approaches to tasks in an attempt to reach resolutions through reliable methods. Curiosity makes it much easier to develop new ideas and adapt to any changes that come your way. Create a designated time and space to engage with employees (i.e., brainstorming sessions, suggestions, Q&A, etc.) and spark creativity and curiosity amongst team members.
In essence, thought leaders are the top experts in their given industries, typically obtaining extensive experience, higher education, and training to become reputable among organizations. Continuing education throughout your career is crucial to maintaining your leadership skills. Seek out other industry leaders for training, mentorship, and more to make yourself an effective thought leader too.
Marketing Stories Through Thought Leadership
Innovative, modern companies and organizations must utilize the strongest leadership to sustain growth and excellent outputs. Thought leaders are top experts in their respective fields or industries, finding valuable ways to promote productivity, inspire new ideas, and strengthen their teams with informed strategies.
Thought leaders can utilize the story-telling side of marketing to meet consumer demands and find creative ways to build a bustling work environment that will flourish for years. Work with a creative agency like Main & Rose to develop a robust marketing strategy that suits your thoughtful leadership style. Contact the marketing experts at Main & Rose today to transform your organization through effective thought leadership.