A thought leader has gained a certain level of influence by inspiring others through their ideas, offerings or way of being. A thought leader has risen to a peak in their career, positioning themselves for visibility and as an authority in their field. I’ve noticed that thought leaders share certain characteristics that help them become influential — and when they possess all of these traits together they possess a powerful “influence” cocktail that helps any expert-preneur gain more visibility. Feel free to borrow their “traits”!
When innovation is present, the thought leader has an innate curiosity and optimism about how things can be better. Instead of being locked into “how things are”, this type of person strives for transformation and improvement. In the book, Growth Mindset, Carol Dweck explains the importance of staying open and focusing on the joy of learning — versus being super focused on winning and results. Creativity is the lifeblood of innovation, but it can’t be harnessed if our mind is closed to new possibilities.
A visionary who is transparent and authentic about their journey will develop trust and loyalty from those that they serve. Brene Brown is a huge advocate for transparency in leaders — and believes that not only does it create deep connection but its also an important factor in reducing stress. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection Brown states, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Being transparent is a choice each thought leader must make. It won’t always be easy but being willing to be vulnerable and “not always know the answer” will pay off along the way.
3. Risk Taker
A thought leader is often taking uncommon ideas into society to create transformation and a new paradigm of possibility — which requires courage and confidence with taking big risks. Inside the mind and heart of any profound thought leader is someone willing to face the fire of uncertainty and take bold action to move their ideas forward in the world. From Steve Jobs to Abraham Lincoln to Oprah, we have many role models that have demonstrated how taking risks is a key ingredient to developing influence — and results.
For a leader who has big ideas and a bold vision, having a positive mindset and doing good things just isn’t enough. They must posses the trait of conviction and be willing to move mountains for their mission. A thought leader must believe so deeply in their ideas that they will stand in controversy and resistance of well-meaning people who don’t share their conviction and will try to talk them out of it. Conviction generates the required enthusiasm and motivation to keep going — a necessary characteristic when a thought leader hits the bumps in the road.
A thought leader moves out of “idea” stage and into a state of influence and authority because their community has access to their ideas. That means that there must be a constant feed of content that can be consumed. From books and speaking engagements to podcasting and social media engagement, a thought leader must have several platforms where their ideas are shared on a regular basis. For some, this is where getting support, hiring a team, or getting a mentor come in handy.
A great idea that stays dormant in your own mind can’t possibly have an impact out in the world. By charging up your approach with these five characteristics, you can move from “best kept secret” to influential authority and thought leader in rapid time.
You can also accelerate your path into thought leadership by connecting and learning with others in the Amplify Your Success Community (and its FREE!)