Dr. Matthias Catón, Founder and Charter President of Professional Speakers Frankfurt, recently examined what it is to be a thought leadership.
In his Wholegrain Leadership Podcast, Dr Catón described how you can find the sweet spot between your passion or purpose, your credentials or experience, and your “big idea”. “It’s not enough to be an expert,” he says. “You also have to be able to communicate your ideas to a broad audience.”
He interviewed Rhea Wessell, the Founder and Head of The Institute for Thought Leadership, who is an American writer and ideas coach based in Frankfurt. She explains in the podcast the meaning of thought leadership here: “Thought leadership is when a subject matter expert has found the right way to share his or her knowledge that makes it new, interesting relevant and forward looking.”
Below is Rhea’s take on thought leaders and the difference between them and subject matter experts. She says:
“Thought leaders are people who are so specialised in what they do and enamoured with their ideas about what they are chasing and pursuing that sometimes they lose the right language for articulating that. Thought leaders give away their knowledge for free, that’s one characteristic. They educate, they narrate, they articulate what is perhaps hard to articulate. Some people get a little bit too close to their idea set and to their knowledge and they need new and different ways to talk about it, finding new and different stories.
“The difference between a subject matter expert and a thought leader is this ability to articulate that understanding and teach it and spin it forward and use it to affect change.
“It’s important to find new ways to find out how to talk about it in a more interesting ways. For instance there are a lot of stories about digital transformation but it’s important to know how to get the rich information and adapt your message for the needs of your audience.
“A thought leader is someone who is working from their passion, their purpose, from their big ideas.
“You are adapting your message for the needs of your audiences, because thought leaders are about solutions whether that is their customer or their internal audience. It’s more about the audience.”
Listen to Become A Thought Leader here.