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In lots of ways thought leaders are the same as everyone else. In different ways, they are pretty unique. The ones that stand out have a tendency to share a common group of characteristics: they expand ideas, they tell stories, they nurture long-lasting relationships plus they adopt behaviors that increase their momentum.
Thought leaders expand ideas. Ideas will be the bread and butter of thought leadership. At the core of each project, product cause or movement there can be an idea — a concept that is designed to inspire new means of thinking and engage action. Ideas form the core of what this means to improve the world. People hire and promote thought leaders because they’re "ideators," defined by the Urban Dictionary as "somebody who creates productive ides. So that you can engage people who have our ideas, we should nurture relentless curiosity, find and build relationships our broader ecosystem, and show others just how forward.
Nurture relentless curiosity . Tom Kelley, the overall manager of IDEO, among the world’s leading design firms and the writer of the Ten Faces of Innovation, advocates that folks and organization constantly gather new resources of information so that you can expand their knowledge and grow. Don’t hold out for inspiration to strike. Nurture relentless curiousity; continually explore and expand new possibilities. Question the status quo and have, what may be the "next big thing"? Look for novel means of looking at the world, out-of-the-box solutions, and the sparks of innovation everywhere — in books, online, in meetings, at events.
Build relationships your ecosystem . Dan Gillmor, the director of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, started his career as a journalist, especially at the San Jose Mercury news. When he started writing his first column, he says, "Many individuals sent me email, mostly to tell me what I was missing, and what an idiot I was, however the "what I was missing’ was the truly nutrients." He learned early a guiding principle that became the underpinning of everything he did. "My readers knew a lot more than I really do. And from that, a conversation emerged."
Look for creative suggestions from, and collaborate with, those tackling the same challenges you are . Create a dialogue in order that everyone’s solutions and questions are heard and valued. You don’t have to know everything (and even have an incredible innovation you possess) before starting. The point is to obtain the broader ecosystem that cares in what you care about and enter or create the conversation. Interact with the sage and the newbie. Great ideas haven’t any boundaries.
Show just how forward . What transforms leaders into thought leaders is their willingness to effect a result of something new and to understand from their early efforts and become ready to share their successes and failures, guidelines and lessons learned in order that others need not start from scratch if it is their turn. Thought leaders see their role as a lot more than the leader of 1 team, one initiative or one organization. Each goes further, showing how their experiences could be applied a lot more broadly. They concentrate on developing principles, processes or systems that others may use, expand on and transform subsequently. They identify the proper direction, forge into new territory and craft the mileposts and chart just how forward for ordinary people. Their goal is for his or her followers to expand on the efforts and help them create not merely incremental change but potentially a good movement.
This article can be an edited excerpt reprinted with permission from the publisher, Jossey-Bass, a Wiley brand, from Prepared to be considered a Thought Leader? by Denise Brosseau.