What does being a thought leader mean to you? For me, it means being seen as the go-to source of information and being a beacon for future generations, whether that be teaching in the classroom or being a mentor in industry. Thought leadership can take many forms, including conducting in-depth research of tomorrow’s trends, publishing thought-provoking articles, and sharing knowledge with others on an individual basis. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up during my career as a professor and as IMA’s vice president of research and policy and professor-in-residence.
1. Stand out from the crowd
It’s important to keep an eye on competitors, but you’ll get more value out of creatingdiverse, original material. Whether you’re speaking at an event or to your coworkers, offering relevant, timely, and accurate thought leadership shows that you are invested in your audience and their future. For example, IMA’s research is funded in-house and is authentic, original material.
2. Prove your credibility
Your products need to be credible. Conduct your own research, surveys, or studies andprove that you’re capable of getting real results—that’s credibility. Also, getting your name out there by publishing articles, presenting at conferences, and speaking at events helps you become more credible. Being a thought leader means you’re the go-to person for information in your industry.
3. Show your passion
If you aren’t passionate about the thought leadership you’re producing, why produce it? Make sure that what you’re writing, speaking about, or researching is worth your time—because if it isn’t, your audience won’t be passionate about it either. Thought leadership is only valuable if people acknowledge it. Showing your audience that you’re passionate about your work will also increase engagement, both online and offline.
4. Engage your audience
Understanding your audience’s needs will help you produce better and more relevant thought leadership. What do they care about most? You can find out by sending theman online survey, or engage with them on social media, at in-person events, or via e-mail or phone calls. This will help you create loyal, long-term stakeholders that follow your thought leadership. In addition, studying the trends will help you plan for future research, publications, or speaking engagements.
5. Pass it on
Students and young professionals are the future of our profession. Passing on knowledge from educator to student, from supervisor to employee, and from peer to peer is an important responsibility of being a thought leader. Knowledge sharing is also one of the best ways to become a thought leader, especially since the growth of the digital landscape has made it a lot easier and quicker to share information.
Be a Thought Leader
Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen over night. It takes time to build your brand and become recognized in your field. IMA has become a thought leader in management accounting over the past 97 years. Our thought-provoking, relevant, and timely publications contribute to our overall success, and it all started with the goal to one day become a thought leader. Anyone can become a thought leader if they’re passionate about and persistent to achieving their goals.
Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson