Last week I facilitated a workshop on thought leadership, social media and sharing your ideas on a wider scale. The questions we discussed were both complex and deep.
Knowledge, insight and wisdom are all valuable capital in the world today. Organisations that know how to develop thought leaders and thought leadership content have a huge advantage. Thought leadership matters for marketing and credibility and it shows that you have smart people who care working in your organisation.
One of the questions we tried to tackle was: How can you as a human being leave something behind that matters to other people?
Leaving behind thoughts and ideas that matter to others is part of being a thought leader. These days the web and social media connect people and ideas on a larger scale. This makes sharing our thoughts even more interesting and means we are constantly influenced by other people's ideas. If you would like to share your ideas and thoughts you need to find a way to do it, and many of us have a limited amount of time to spend on writing and preparing articles. How can you share your ideas effectively so the end result is worth reading?
Another question was: What defines a thought leader? I have a few suggestions for the definition of thought leader: being credible and an expert in a particular area. A thought leader is also someone who helps us to consider a topic on a deeper level, and he or she shares their knowledge freely and widely. Most importantly, thought leadership is something I can identify when I see it.
This autumn, my favourite TV series has been The Bridge, a Swedish/Danish crime drama. In the ninth episode a new investigator says to his senior colleague: 'I'm not sure what Saga has told you about me, but I'm a great police officer.' The reply he got was: 'A great police officer doesn't have to say that they are great.' It's the same with thought leaders, if you are one you don't need to say it, others will pick up on your talents and endorse you.
One more thing we discussed was: What's the difference between too much and too little self-promotion? If you want people to know about what you do you need to share your message in different ways. How can you do this without being seen as a bragger? It's a complex question, but you need to build up credibility and you do that by being part of a discussion and sharing your knowledge. To not do any self-promotion when you have a lot of knowledge is almost a crime.
We all have different talents. Some people are good at running, others at cooking and some have the talent of sharing their knowledge and experiences. We are all different. One participant in the workshop said: 'But being good at running and cooking are not as crucial for your career as being good at sharing your knowledge.' This is true, and not everyone begins from the same starting point, and life is not always fair. Luckily we can all gain new skills and learn new things throughout our life. You can train yourself to become better at sharing your knowledge and talk about your experiences, even if you feel resistance to start with.
Leaders and great thinkers are not born, they are made - and they put in a lot of time in developing themselves.