In many ways thought leaders are exactly like everyone else. In other ways, they are pretty unique. Those that stand out tend to share a common set of characteristics: they expand ideas, they tell stories, they nurture long-lasting relationships and they adopt behaviors that increase their momentum.
Thought leaders expand ideas. Ideas are the bread and butter of thought leadership. At the core of every project, product cause or movement there is an idea — an idea that is meant to inspire new ways of thinking and engage action. Ideas form the core of what it means to change the world. People hire and promote thought leaders because they are “ideators,” defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a person who creates productive ides. In order to engage people with our ideas, we must nurture relentless curiosity, find and engage with our broader ecosystem, and show others the way forward.
Nurture relentless curiosity. Tom Kelley, the general manager of IDEO, one of the world’s leading design firms and the author of the Ten Faces of Innovation, advocates that individuals and organization constantly gather new sources of information in order to expand their knowledge and grow. Don’t wait around for inspiration to strike. Nurture relentless curiosity; continually explore and expand new possibilities. Question the status quo and ask, what might be the “next big thing”? Seek out novel ways of looking at the world, out-of-the-box solutions, and the sparks of innovation everywhere – in books, online, in meetings, at events.
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