Harvard Business Review – How to Become a Thought Leader in Six Steps

by Dorie Clark

It’s gospel that you have to cultivate your personal brand, particularly if you have designs on the C suite. But because everyone has a brand nowadays (Tom Peters describes it as“your promise to the marketplace and the world”) simply having one is insufficient if you want to advance. You can’t just be known as “the guy who speaks Spanish” or “the programmer who can explain things well” or “that woman in legal who gets things done fast.” That’s nice — but there are a million of you, and in a globalized world, your company can find an alternative to you fast. That’s why you need to establish yourself as a thought leader. Good employees and good executives are nice to have. Thought leaders are irreplaceable — and indispensible.

So how do you build a reputation as a singular expert — someone who doesn’t just participate in the conversation, but drives it? In a word: leverage. No matter how brilliant and talented you are, you won’t be sufficiently appreciated within your organization or by your customers until the broader public recognizes you. This outside reinforcement becomes an echo chamber that brings money and respect. How to get it? Follow these six steps to jump-start your thought leadership. Not all avenues will be open to you at the start, but most will in time.

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