The evolution and disruption of businesses have forced many organisational leaders to reconsider their stance on corporate leadership. What was once a command and conquer, individualistic leadership style is now obsolete in the face of leaders becoming more empathetic, vocal and team players. Modern-day business leaders are increasingly using their expertise and empathy, not their position, to influence people – including employees, industry policymakers, and customers. In a nutshell, they are adopting a thought leadership strategy en masse.
Being a thought leader can be a powerful way to influence others and drive change. As a business thought leader, you have the power to build an impactful persona that enables both you and your organisation to stand out from the crowd.
So, how can you become an impactful thought leader? Truth be told, it is not something that happens overnight. It requires a clear strategy and a willingness to put in the work to build your reputation as an expert. Let us discuss the broader strategy to accomplish the same.
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6 Hacks to Become an Impactful Thought Leader
- Define your area of expertise: The first step to becoming a thought leader is identifying your unique area. This could be a specific industry, a particular skill or knowledge area, or a particular issue you are passionate about solving. Once you’ve identified your area of expertise, you can start to build your reputation as an expert in that area by sharing your insights and knowledge with others.
That is how Sanjiv Bajaj – the renowned financial thought leader – did to amplify the success of Bajaj Finserv. As the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv, Sanjiv Bajaj has been very active in becoming a voice for the finance and fintech industry. His use of multiple platforms to shed light on the challenges, recommendations and innovative solutions in the industry has garnered a lot of trust and faith in Bajaj Finserv’s ability to be an industry leader.
- Develop a thought leadership strategy: To be an effective thought leader, you need to have a clear plan for sharing your expertise and insights with others. This might involve writing articles or blog posts, giving presentations or talks, or engaging with others on social media or online forums. Whatever your thought leadership strategy, it’s important to be consistent and to focus on providing value to your audience.
- Engage with your audience: To be an impactful thought leader, you need to connect with your audience and engage with them on a deeper level. This could involve asking questions, soliciting feedback, or simply listening to what others say. By showing empathy and a willingness to listen, you can build stronger relationships with your audience and become a more trusted and respected thought leader.
Anand Mahindra, the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, is renowned for being a very engaging thought leader, especially on social media. He regularly interacts with his followers through insightful stories and information on his channels, often giving them much food for thought. He does everything from news stories on indigenous inventions to tips for budding entrepreneurs.
- Empower others: One of the keys to being a successful thought leader is to help others learn and grow. This could involve sharing your knowledge and expertise with others or simply providing support and encouragement to help others reach their full potential. Some of the top organisational leaders in India are known for their ability to empower others, which is a key aspect of effective thought leadership. Empowering others can help create a positive and collaborative culture, which can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.
Once again, a relevant example is Sanjiv Bajaj, who is known for using his ‘think like owners’ mantra to empower employees to innovate and help drive success. This is a top trait of the best empowering leaders, as they encourage innovation and collaboration by giving teams the freedom to take risks and solve challenges creatively.
- Stay up to date: To be a thought leader, it is important to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments in your industry. This might involve reading industry publications, attending conferences and events, or simply staying connected with others in your field. By staying informed, you can keep your knowledge and expertise current, which is essential for maintaining your credibility as a thought leader.
- Be authentic: To be an impactful thought leader, it’s important to be authentic and genuine. This means being true to your own values and beliefs and not trying to be someone you’re not. The most empathetic leaders are those who can connect with others on a genuine and authentic level, which is key to building trust and credibility as a thought leader.
Like Anand Mahindra, Uday Kotak – the CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank – has emerged as a powerful thought leader who believes in sharing authentic views, opinions and content to engage leaders. This helps drive a positive, trustworthy reputation for Kotak Mahindra Bank as customers link it with its CEO’s genuineness.
Being a CXO of a company today comes with a lot of attention and expectations. As an entrepreneur, you are expected to be more than just a decision-maker. By stepping into the shoes of a thought leader, you will deliver upon the expectations of employees, consumers, and other industry stakeholders to truly lead with a purpose, character and vision.
Having expertise will only take your thought leadership strategy so far. To be truly impactful as a thought leader, you must build and engage an audience by sharing key insights and authentic stories through the most relevant mediums. So grab all the opportunities to demonstrate and profess your expertise and opinions, and watch your influence as a popular thought leader grow!