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Four Ways to Demonstrate Thought Leadership

05/28/2013 Adrienne N. Hester

LightbulbEntrepreneurs can be divided into leaders and followers. Followers might be sufficiently competent and reliable, but leaders are the ones who command the most attention and respect. They set trends, make breakthroughs, and consistently demonstrate authority and creativity in a given field.

To promote your business and set yourself apart from the pack, you'll need to exercise thought leadership, proving to others that you can address the pressing problems in your field, offer a unique and compelling perspective, and yield a profit from your foresight and authority. These days, many people on the Internet and other media call themselves thought leaders; to distinguish yourself from them, you'll have to go beyond talking about how you're a thought leader and actually give proof of it.

What are four ways to demonstrate thought leadership?

  1. Engage In a Public Dialogue about the Burning Questions in Your Field

    Publish articles, both in trade journals and in magazines geared towards the public, where you make predictions about where your field is headed and the issues that need to be addressed. Participate in conferences where you present ideas and receive feedback from others. Write about some of your wilder or bold plans in blog posts to attract interest and a steady following, along with some healthy debate. Your communications must be rich in substance and crafted in such a way to attract and hold attention. With time, you'll build a body of work that proves to others you're a thought leader in your field.

  2. Promote Your Accomplishments

    Don't be modest about your achievements and credentials. You can promote your accomplishments effectively without coming across as a braggart. Send out press releases announcing creative or compelling information about your company, such as a new product or service, or a new way of doing business. Secure interviews with journalists and bloggers who can write a profile on you and help you broadcast your message and your achievements to date.

  3. Listen and Learn

    A good leader pays attention to other people whether they're business colleagues, competitors, or customers. What's important to them? What are they saying? Read and think about what's going on in your field, and look beyond it as well; key innovations can arise when people synthesize information from multiple fields. Don't automatically dismiss or attempt to silence those who disagree with your views. You can have your own firm opinions while still maintaining an open-minded attitude. People will respect you for this.

  4. Get Endorsements

    Your business will receive a significant boost if you get the endorsement of well-known figures in your field. These are people who already have a strong reputation, have broken new ground, and others look up to them. If they mentor you, collaborate with you, or otherwise endorse or spotlight your work, your own reputation as a thought leader will strengthen significantly.

Demonstrating thought leadership requires meaningful public engagement, compelling communication, and active networking. Contact us to discuss effective ways to promote yourself as a thought leader and strengthen your reputation.