A popular term in today’s digital world of content creation, “thought leadership” is not really a new concept at all. In fact, The Oxford English Dictionary gives its first citation for the phrase in 1887 by describing Henry Ward Beecher as “one of the great thought-leaders in America.” It was revived or reinvented by marketers in the 1980s, and in 1990 was used in a Wall Street Journal marketing article by Patrick Reilly.
When defined, a thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded. But in a world where people find desired information in thousands of locations – their favorite online publications, blogs, social platforms or served up in email newsletters and podcasts – becoming a thought leader is a much more common thing. Therefore, competition is plentiful.
During my first month at Weaving Influence, I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of amazingly talented thought leaders and authors. I’m learning more about them and their contributions to our world through their books and the original content they create. Working smarter, being more fulfilled in life, becoming the leader you aspire to become – it’s much like attending an insightful, personal development seminar every day! These individuals are truly talented thought leaders who are sharing their insights into our world to benefit those who are willing to open their minds and become a better person.
Are you a thought leader? Being known as one seems like a fairly hefty mantle to wear. But the truth is, many of us are thought leaders on a smaller scale, we just don’t realize it.
You may be a thought leader among your peers and circle of friends, regularly offering insight to your area of expertise: Where should we have dinner for our anniversary? When visiting Chicago, what should we plan to see? Do you know how to plant a raised vegetable garden? That’s how thought leadership begins, with expertise that blossoms into widely-respected knowledge in your specialized field of expertise.
What will you do with your knowledge? How will you nurture it and grow it to become larger than life?
You can learn how by emulating the leaders that you aspire to be like, and using your own knowledge to help your peers, the next generation and potentially generations to come.
To become recognized as a thought leader takes diligence and hard work while you are gaining experience in your craft, and while spreading your insights. But it’s never too late to start. Large or small scale, the world becomes a better place when we share insights and lessons learned from each other.
Be a coach, a student mentor, or an admired leader. Create thought leadership in your own world and nurture it. Don’t be overwhelmed by the concept, just feed it. Watch it grow and many will reap the benefits.
Tell me something! How do you nurture your own sense of leadership?