Thoughtful leadership

Is thought leadership harder than ever or easier than ever?

Thomas and Penny Power OBE interview top experts from the BIP100 community to introduce them to you. Finding experts that you can trust is a challenge. By sharing their clients with you, they hope they can reduce your search for great people that can help you build your business.

The main guest in this interview was Mindy Gibbins-Klein, speaker, trainer, author, and coach. She brought two other guests with her, Alison Edgar, and Malcolm Tullett.

Becoming a thought leader

What is a thought leader, and why do people want to be perceived as one? A thought leader is an individual who is an expert in their industry and is also perceived to hold substantial influence both within their own industry and within the wider business sphere.

To be regarded as the go-to person in your line of business is an enviable position to be in, and many people would love to reach that level. To have a recognisable name and credentials that speak for themselves opens doors to massive business and personal opportunities.

Mindy has helped many entrepreneurs take steps towards this goal, and she has some clear ideas on what it means.
Above all she holds that it is the market that decides who is a thought leader, or an influencer. You cannot just appropriate that title for yourself.

Thoughtful leadership

The discussion moved to the idea of a thoughtful leader. Mindy explained that there are two ways to interpret thoughtful, and they are both important.

Firstly, to share a valuable message with the world, you need to spend time thinking it through. You need to stop thinking in tweet-sized bites and dig deep; be sure that what you are offering—your unique combination of knowledge, experience, and insight—is true, original and meaningful.

The second interpretation of thoughtful is about taking care, of being empathetic and showing respect. This is just as important as the knowledge you bring. If you don’t care about your message, why should anyone else. And if you don’t care about your audience, why should they care about you?

Part of Mindy’s message is that while thought leadership isn’t for everyone, thoughtful leadership could —and should—be.

Becoming a thoughtful thought leader

In some ways it’s easier than ever to become visible, thanks to social media and the internet in general. However, you may do all the right things and still not achieve the visibility you crave. 

One important element in the mix is that it is the market that will decide whether your message is influential. You can’t just call yourself a thought leader or an influencer. Wanting it isn’t necessarily going to make it happen.

As she coaches entrepreneurs to become business book authors, Mindy is naturally passionate about the role a book can play in building profile. However, a book on its own isn’t going to set the world alight. 

The process of writing, of digging down into the heart of the message, of structuring the content is as important as the finished article. When done well, it forces you to reconsider, to be original, to achieve your own clarity, and to provide substance to your message.

Who can be a thought leader?

A thought leader is an expert, but that expertise can be acquired in different ways. For some people it will have been gained mostly through academic study and research. Someone else may have racked up their 10,000 hours mastery in hands-on experience. It may be through their IQ and curiosity, or street-smart savvy. 

It’s likely to be some combination of different routes. They are all valid but require the thoughtfulness practice to become valuable.

Thought leaders are unafraid to create controversy, but they won’t do it just for the sake of it, to create empty headlines. They’re prepared to disrupt old habits to bring in new and improved ways of thinking and working.

The consensus was that thoughtful leadership and thought leadership are hard. It’s far easier to achieve either of them with support. So, if you’re the person who wants to disrupt your industry, how do you get that? 

The point was made that some people are excellent at being a coach or a teacher. They may not have achieved the same level that their protegee is reaching for, but they have the skills to support them to achieve it.

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