Professionals gain a significant strategic and financial advantage by being thought leaders. One of the most important components of a high-caliber thought leadership campaign is the individual professionals.
The world of professionals – financial advisors, accountants, attorneys, bankers, life insurance agents, and so forth – is a world of commodities. This does not mean that some professionals are not better than others. It just means that at the high-end of each specialty the respective professionals are all equally technically competent, thereby able to deliver the same high-quality solutions. Consequently, thought leadership becomes a very important differentiator and is often critical to a professional’s accomplishments.
Professionals who are thought leaders are disproportionately able to generate revenues for themselves and their firms. This is, no doubt, motivating many of them to take the time and effort to become thought leaders. Some will be very effective. More will be somewhat effective. Many will be moderately successful to ineffective.
Part of the reason for not exceling as thought leaders is a lack of ability to construct meaningful content. Another determining reason for missing the mark is incapacity to effectively distribute content to preferred audiences. Essential to the success of a professional becoming a thought leader are the professionals themselves.
Based on extensive research, professionals who are successful thought leaders are characterized by a number of personal qualities. Three of the key qualities are:
- Drive: Professionals have to be passionate about their work. They must have a sense of purpose that goes beyond making money (though making money is a part of it). This commitment is essential because becoming a thought leader requires considerable time, effort, and resources. It’s hard work.
- Expertise: Professionals directly or through their firms must be technically astute. They must be appropriately skilled and knowledgeable. Thus, clients are well served when they engage them.
- Presence: Professionals need to have a certain level of gravitas when communicating with intended audiences, prospects, and clients. Part of this is a function of their profile as thought leader; part of it is a function of technical expertise; and part of it is the person.
While drive is there or it isn’t, the other two qualities can be learned and refined. The easier one of the two is often expertise. As noted, professional services are commodities. Hence, through education or a new hire, professionals and their firms can ensure they have the requisite technical understandings and capabilities.
Presence tends to be a little harder to master, but certainly not an obstacle. This is not about being inherently charismatic. Instead, for instance, it’s about being able to – in person – convey a sense of self-efficacy as well as a conviction and precision in messaging (e.g., good public speaking skills).
In an increasingly hyper-competitive environment where high-caliber professionals are regularly indistinguishable based on their deliverables, success is a product of business development. Thought leaders are often vital to bringing in new business. Moreover, if a professional is intensely determined, he or she can develop and upgrade the other two personal qualities required to be a thought leader.
This article was written by Russ Alan Prince from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.