I’ve been noticing lately that some people use the terms “thought leadership” and “expert” interchangeably. They are related, but in practice an expert and thought leader are light-years apart.
An expert is someone who is well versed and practiced in his or her field of expertise. They may be writing about what they know and have even written a book, they get quoted in the media, and are paid to speak at meetings.
A thought leader: Shows the way…Has followers…Has a depth of knowledge in their area of expertise…Owns a new idea in their area of expertise…Writes about it prolifically, successfully communicates about it, the idea resonates… Influences people to change the way they think and behave…Inspires many people…Is well-known by many people in a niche, or industry…Is quoted extensively in the media and by other influential people…Is invited to keynote at important meetings…Knows other thought leaders...Is on a mission to make the world a better place by changing the way people think, and who won't rest until they succeed.
Look at the writings and ideas of such thinkers as Riane Eisler, Marshall Goldsmith, Helen Fisher , Alan Weiss, Margaret Wertheim, Seth Godin, and Margaret Wheatley, and you’ll quickly understand why the term “thought leader” is not synonymous with “expert.”
No one is born a thought leader. Great thinkers become that way because they have an extraordinary passion to change the way people think and behave, have a deep knowledge of their subject, and continually put their ideas out for all to see. If you want to make a lasting contribution in your field of expertise, influence many with your ideas and lead a more fulfilling life, choose the path to thought leadership.
If you were to become a thought leader, what would that be for you?
Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611. www.guisemarketing.com