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How to Become a Thought Leader at Work

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A thought leader is someone whose ideas and opinions are trusted to be authoritative, innovative, and influential within their industry (or organization). They are looked to for guidance and insight from colleagues and leadership alike.   

When you’re ready to take your career to the next level or branch out on your own as an independent training consultant, exhibiting thought leadership will help you stand out. Thought leadership demonstrates that you have the strategic thinking abilities, leadership skills, and confidence to be a trusted resource for solving training problems and identifying the performance solutions that will lead to growth.

The challenge, of course, is how to start positioning yourself as a thought leader while you’re busy managing your everyday responsibilities. Use these strategies to start behaving like a thought leader, and you’ll soon find yourself becoming one.

Identify your biggest productivity thieves.

It’s hard to identify what’s stealing away your productivity, and that’s because the thieves are often disguised as shortcuts to ultra-productivity. 

Think about your smartphone. It’s supposed to make communication more efficient and information more accessible, right? But instead, we get bogged down by emails coming in at all hours that we feel we have to respond to right away. It’s almost impossible to avoid distraction with a smartphone sitting within reach.

We all have things that are supposed to help us be more productive that wind up making it harder for us to actually see projects through to completion. Meetings are another good example of a common productivity thief. Identify what your worst productivity thieves are and work on minimizing their impact.

Invest your time and energy where it counts.

When you pour yourself into too many things at once, your energy gets diluted. Pretty soon there’s so little going into each initiative that your investments aren’t effective anywhere. You’re just burning yourself down to the quick.

Take a step back and identify the projects where an investment of your energy will have the most impact. Limit yourself to just a couple and really pour yourself into them. We guarantee you’ll start seeing a much stronger ROI on your time and energy.

Learn how to press “pause.”

Often, we get so caught up in the doing that we don’t take time to reflect. But reflection is where moments of clarity, insight, and innovation happen. When we don’t allow ourselves time to reflect, we’re depriving ourselves of the opportunity to have those big ideas that will move our training programs and results forward.

After your next training program wraps up, take some time—schedule it, if you have to!—to press pause and reflect on how the program went. Was it successful? What were its weak points? Where did you excel? How could it be improved? 

Our daily responsibilities take up a lot of time. So much so that they compete with getting new ideas off the ground. When the focus is on day-to-day execution, those new ideas will always lose. When you press “pause” on the daily grind, you make time to devote energy to new ideas and strategic initiatives.

It’s not easy to do. That’s why the people who do it stand out.

Slow down.

A related point, but one important enough to warrant highlighting on its own.

It’s easy to become almost addicted to a fast pace at work and let that convince you that you’re making progress. When we get too caught up in maintaining a breakneck pace, we tend to start sacrificing innovation in favor of barreling on full speed ahead.

It seems like it’s easier (and more efficient) just to keep moving than it is to stop, take everything apart, and put it back together again before we start the engines back up. But that’s an illusion. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you’re not going anywhere. You’re running full speed ahead without moving an inch. 

The bottom line is that to become a thought leader at work, you first have to make space in your work life for the big thoughts to come to you. Minimize distractions, focus your attention on the projects that matter, slow down the pace, and schedule time for reflection.

Ready to take your thought leadership to the next level? Register for our new two-day Performance Consulting workshop to master the skills you need to earn an influential role in shaping training strategy, and to position yourself as a strategic training consultant. With a fresh set of leadership and facilitation skills, you will quickly transition from order-taker to trusted advisor, either within your organization or as an independent consultant.

Click here to learn more about Performance Consulting, or click here to register.