6 Characteristics Great Thought Leaders Share

school of fishThought leaders share many behaviors. Rather than stand on a pedestal, they foster approachability. Rather than work in obscurity, they make sure they are “discoverable.” Rather than pretend they’ve got it all figured out, they share their lives openly (the good, the bad, and, within reason, the ugly). Rather than go it alone, they seek support. And rather than staying on the sidelines, they jump in and make things happen. These behaviors have one thing in common: they help thought leaders increase the momentum for their ideas.

Foster approachability. As a thought leader, you need to know the right people and the right people need to know you. This doesn’t mean that you must be an extrovert who collects dozens of business cards at events with no intention of following up. Nor does it mean you only speak to the “most important” people at an event and ignore anyone else when they approach you. Friendliness wins. Whether you’re out networking, writing a blog, tweeting up a storm, or hosting a brown-bag lunch, the idea is to attract and connect with followers. That requires you to foster approachability. You will spread your ideas only if others want to speak with you or read what you’ve written.

Ask yourself: Are your writing and speaking styles approachable? Are your activities “of service,” or are they all about you?

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Denise Brosseau

Denise Brosseau

Denise Brosseau is the founder and chief executive officer of Thought Leadership Lab, a boutique professional services firm which specializes in building leaders into thought leaders – increasing their "discoverability," amplifying their social influence and catalyzing strategic connections that lead to a seat at the table for the conversations that matter. Clients include leaders from Apple, Genentech and Morgan Stanley, as well as startup CEOs. She is the author of Ready to be a Thought Leader? Denise has an MBA from Stanford, is a recipient of their STARS award, and in 2012 was honored by the White House as a "Champion of Change."

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