How to be an Influencer and a Thought Leader?

Published On October 25, 2016
In Global, Others, ESG, Blog Archives

Who is a thought leader?

A thought leader is a person who comes up with an original or innovative idea and then inspires people to accept and follow that idea. Some notable personalities most people consider as thought leaders are Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Bernie Ecclestone of Formula One and Lalit Modi of IPL.

 

What are the characteristics of a thought leader?

A thought leader is not a unique personality, and certainly not a limited edition model. Hence anyone can become a thought leader at their work place and even in personal live.

 

Here are 6 ways to think like a thought leader and people who demonstrated them in perfection:

1. Design your strategy, crisply – Howard Schultz

This is the first and foremost action item. Thought leaders have a knack of writing down each and every step, task and activity involved in their overall plan. They showcase the tasks as if they were sequential happenings in their personal life story so that the reader can instantly visualize the key project milestones and work flow. Starbucks Coffee Company Chairman, Howard Schultz would often say that companies need to design their strategy first. Not only does it help them in aligning all team members but it also helps them in holding people accountable and ensures effective project implementation.

2. Communicate your strategy to all, clearly – Paul Pressler

Influencers and leaders know very well that they need foot soldiers to turn their visionary strategies into functional realities. Personally, they take diligent efforts to convey their strategy to the grass root levels. One needs to design simple, easy to understand plans to communicate a vision. The communication can be in form of short write-ups, crisp Q&A, captivating video clips, etc. The key part is that the communication has to mandatorily reach all levels of employees within the organization. Gap Inc. ex-CEO, Paul Pressler regularly highlighted the need of communication with grass root employees. He walked the talk by holding frequent Town Hall Meetings with all his employees in San Francisco.

3. Tell stories to convey your vision – Herb Kelleher

Thought Leaders, the world over, excel at the art of conveying their message effectively through succinct, interesting stories. One can take up a central message or theme (example – 100% on-time delivery) and weave a story around it (example – a stitch in time saves nine). Research shows that people remember the message, only when you present it an interesting and humorous way. Founding Chairman of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher was famous for his story telling methods while addressing Employee Meets, Press Conferences and Board Meetings.

4. Set clear and achievable goals – John Hogan

The goals and the approach plan needs to be clear, precise and most importantly, achievable. Only then will all employees truly motivate themselves to work on the company’s goals. Influencers and strategic thinkers get this key pointer very quickly. While listing goals, one has to ensure to clearly state predecessor and successor for each goal. The timeline and person responsible need a mention too. Ex-Chairman Clear Channel Communications, John Hogan, would never take up an important project without setting clear and achievable goals for all team members in advance.

5. Get better or you are getting worse – Tom Monaghan

Influential leaders are very good at tracking their performance, always. They know that there is only one way to go up and that is by getting higher scores, each time. One should understand that in today’s hyper-competitive market place, maintaining status quo means to lose ground, because someone faster and nimbler will overtake you. Domino’s Pizza Founder, Tom Monaghan always preached that professional complacency meant you are getting worse and falling behind in the competitive landscape.

6. Watch competitors and challenge your strategy – Peter Drucker

You can win only when you defeat your competitors. Thought leaders know this perfectly well. To be flexible, adaptable and a winner, one needs to watch the way the competition is working and sometimes, change your working style. Revered marketing management guru, Peter Drucker was a strong proponent of this mantra.

 

 

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Susshruth Apshankar
Susshruth Apshankar
About the Author

Susshruth has a professional experience of approximately 20 years in India and the US working for leading multinationals like Starbucks, Gap, UPS and Aditya Birla Group and driving the three business pillars of ‘people, processes, and profits'. He possesses extensive experience across the globe in developing in-house Centers of Excellence, handling senior decision-making positions and driving high-performance teams.

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