In a recent article I talked about Congruence: Are your ideal and real selves co-existing?. I mentioned that I have a thought leading practice and a number of you were quite interested to know more about this. To those who asked, the work I do is focused on the things I am passionate about, have spent many years studying, practicing and learning about - and am contributing to the thinking around these things. This is a long way from where I started out - putting in for jobs that seemed to be exciting and interesting only to find that the advertisement overstated the possibilities; defining myself in terms of the positions I was employed in and preparing increasingly complex project proposals to win work that I wasn't even that excited by - just to get paid.
Taking a 'thought-leader' approach work, you spend more time on things you love and people value you for what you know and who you are. So you work with people who appreciate your strengths and welcome your unique contribution - that is what they are paying for after all!.
And anyone can do this - either they are working for themselves or working in an organisation. If they are prepared to distill what they are passionate about and believe strongly in, then, so long as they are also prepared to spend a lot of time on developing their thinking around this - they become a thought leader who is valued for the thoughts they have.
For example, over the years I have worked with many nurses who are thought leaders whose opinions would count well beyond their organisations or even their industry. Examples include Cheyne Chalmers who is all about having an impact; Dale Fisher is about having a cause; Amanda Edwards is about turning hospitals around; Lucy Cutihy is about mindful leadership. And they are so much more than that but these are some of the areas that they are known for. The difference between them and you might only be that they have the courage to express their beliefs and are open to different opinions and experiences. Or it might be that they have spent many more years developing their thinking. You don't need to be a high flyer to be an opinion leader - but you do need to be an opinion leader to become a high flyer (and I mean have impact - not necessarily within an organisation!).
I'd love to share my white paper on transition from order taker to thought leader. If you are interested in this click here.
Tell me - what are YOU the thought leader in?