The Imaging Executive: How to become a thought leader

The January issue of the AIE Imaging Executive newsletter features an article by Michelle Randall, principal of executive coaching consulting firm Enriching Leadership International. Below is an excerpt of the article, “Your thought leadership: Advancing your career and your company:”

We call them “experts” or “go-to” people. They’re the ones who gave the talk or wrote the book that you keep telling people about. You can easily use their ideas to underscore a point you want to make. My current favorites are Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote “The Tipping Point,” and Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, who wrote “Freakonomics.” These people are thought leaders. It’s time for you to become one, too.

If you think I’ve gone round the bend, take a moment and hear me out. Becoming a thought leader will radically improve the trajectory of your career and business. By definition, thought leaders are the ones people seek out for their insight and approaches. They are cited by others to prove their points, and their expertise inspires ideas and sparks fresh potential in others in your organization.

Being a thought leader makes you a person of interest, whether within your company, within your industry, or on a global level. How big you think is up to you. The key is to develop your reputation as the obvious go-to person when people are seeking expertise in your area of leadership. Doing so will increase your visibility within your organization and potentially within your industry. As you develop into a standout expert, ideal clients will flock to your company, having heard others refer to you as a leader in the industry.

Despite the obvious benefits and the fact that doing so is easier than it seems, many shy away from pursuing thought leadership. The good news is that this leaves more space for you.

To start, consider whether you are already a thought leader. Do you have unique approaches, insight, and expertise, preferably gained through experience? If so, that is a good start. Avoid striving for encyclopedic knowledge of your area. Instead, uncover a deep level of expertise that you already have, delve into your insight on improving processes that you are familiar with, or consider something you already do very well.