Thought leaders do not simply pontificate on what needs to be done; they actively engage in bringing to life new, first-of-their-kind projects, programs and creative initiatives. It is those actions that influence and inspire others to get on board, according to Denise Brosseau in her book Ready to Be a Thought Leader: How to Increase Your Influence, Impact and Success. A thought leader is defined by her or his ability to galvanise others to think new thoughts, modify the way they have always done things, and embark on new behaviours.
By characterising thought leadership this way, the author is setting the bar somewhat higher than that typically experienced by professionals who are regarded as “thought leaders” if they have a higher profile and are quoted more frequently in newspapers than their peers in their field. True thought leadership is about having original ideas and leading other people somewhere, rather than just about being well-known.
The book provides a seven-step process for becoming a thought leader, starting with finding your driving passion by identifying the one arena where your interests, expertise, credibility and commitment align, and then moving on to broaden your influence, recruit followers, and grow your platform. Numerous examples are given, and many of the featured thought leaders are women.
Other recent books on growing your personal influence tend to focus on social media marketing, with a particular emphasis on blogging. This book goes against the trend by concentrating on the principles rather than the tools, although social media and blogging do get mentioned.
Many people find self-promotion somewhat awkward. In a perfect world, ideas would rise and fall on their own merit without needing a “personality” behind them. However, this is not a perfect world, and if you want your ideas to reach a wide audience you have to put yourself on a platform and undertake the hard work necessary to catch people’s attention. This book will provide plenty of help along the way.