Thought leader. You might have heard this phrase — and you’re not quite sure what it means. It’s difficult to find an exact definition that is universally accepted, but a thought leader is someone who is known for their innovative ideas, expertise, and is widely recognized as a source of guidance in their industry. Some thought leaders that come to mind are Seth Godin, Oprah Winfrey, and the late Steve Jobs.
However, being a thought leader in the workplace is a little different. Your interactions and reputation are within the confines of the office — so your approach to being a thought leader should be on a personal level.
Become recognized as a thought leader
Here are three tips to being a thought leader in your workplace:
- 1. Create a Presence. In order to be known for your expertise, you must first be known in general. You can do this by developing your skills in the workplace. The goal is to be known for something that adds value and makes you a frontrunner in the field.
- 2. Be a Mentor. Being a mentor to an intern or entry-level employee is not just beneficial to them — you’ll be encouraged to learn and know enough about your industry in order to guide them with ease. As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
- 3. Know Your Limitations. You don’t have to strive to know everything, but you should know what you don’t know. Simply put, don’t be tempted to exaggerate your knowledge or ability, as you’ll be risking your credibility and accountability. The best practice is to refer to someone who does know. In the end, they may return the favor when someone could use your expertise.