7 Thoughts On Thought Leadership:
- Thought leadership (TL) is not knowing what’s new, but what’s next.
- In TL it’s not content or context that’s king, but concept.
- TL is not only knowing what’s needed, but knowing what should be first.
- TL is not accepting whatever is in print or the result of “research” as the end of thinking about it.
- Being a TL means being an expert that’s a most trusted adviser in your industry.
- TL’s distinguish themselves from the conventional wisdom.
- TL’s love their constituents more than their own programs.
Leaders and the Challenge of Changing Communities
1. The challenge of remaining relevant.
“The greatest detriment to tomorrow’s success is today’s success.” – R. Warren
- To go to the next level of leadership – what do you need to let go of?
- Sometimes to seize opportunity means to let go of security.
- Security does not always equal significance.
2. The challenge of remaining Competent.
“Leaders who gather followers add to what they can accomplish. Leaders who develop leaders multiply their ability.” – J. Maxwell
- My competence does not always depend on me.
- Part of remaining competent is who you surround yourself with.
3. The Challenge of Assessment.
“There are two ways of relating to life. One is that of playing horse while life rides. The other is that of becoming the rider while life plays horse…if you do not choose to become the rider of life, you are sure to be forced to become the horse. Life either rides or it is ridden. It never stands still.” – N. Hill
- How good am I at what I do?
- Where can I improve?
- Why should other leaders seek out my services?
Look around my fellow leader. Be in tune with the changing tides. And, to stay relevant…always look within first.
Here is a great example of what I write about in my new book, From The Margins To The Mainstream. My friend and colleague, Robert Renteria, is a former gang-banger from East LA, turned successful business man, author, and social activist in addressing the needs of schools needing to change their paradigm of how they are educating our children.
Click on the link and read this excellent example of how one Latino Leaders is positively influencing the mainstream:
I want to matter (Is that bad?). I want to count (worse?). I want to make a difference (egotistical?).
Okay, let me say it another way – I want to serve and be relevant in the day and time I was given to live in this world. I can’t think of anything worse than to simply be existing and surviving in my time on earth with no clue, no ideas, no contribution or significance to show for whatever amount of years I’ve been allotted, and leaving no lasting legacy for my children or grandchildren and others to follow. Is that weird? Maybe, but like it or not, it’s the calling of a leader and unless we respond to that inner voice to make a difference–to be relevant–we’ll surely be the most miserable of people.
Websters Dictionary defines relevance as: a relation to the matter at hand; having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand.
So, this begs the questions: What is the matter at hand, and how are we/can we make a significant contribution that is relevant?
What Is The “State Of Our Nation?”
I watched the President give his annual State of the Union address last week and came away with the deepened impression (deepened because I already felt they were way off track) that our leaders in Washington DC are really lacking in leadership (to put it nicely). I sat there listening and asked myself, “what is he saying and who is he really talking to”? Then, to top it off, the Republican rebuttal was just as bad, just as disconnected, and about as irrelevant to “the matter at hand” as it can get.
Is It Just Me?
Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s because I’m paying more attention now. Maybe I’m just way off base. But, if something dramatic doesn’t happen soon – something dramatic is going to happen soon! As a matter of fact, I believe we are at the point now where it will take some type of dramatic catastrophe (another economic crash, natural disaster, nuclear explosion, or sudden scarcity of resources; like water for example) that will either put our country back on the right course, or will forever change life in America as we (my generation–the baby boomers) have known it. When I look, listen, and study all that’s going on today I truly fret for my children and grandchildren and what they will encounter in the not too distant future.
Do you understand what I’m saying ?
Do see it? Do you feel it? Do you get it? Do you agree? Are you there and do you care, which brings us back to the issue of leading and being relevant.
What Can I Do?
I’m not sure if all the protesting, preaching, or political posturing can really change things at the Federal level anymore. It’s really gotten to the point of beyond ridiculous and is a pretty embarrassing situation in my opinion. I don’t think the average American is aware of (or really cares?) about what’s happening in our nations capitol. If they really understood, that alone would cause a revolution that I think is needed at the grassroots level. The kind of radical revolution like we’ve seen in the past where things get messy, and in our day and age, they might get the messiest that we’ve ever seen. But the good news is that at the individual, grassroots level, we can act and make a difference. And, who knows, maybe even start a movement that can grow to the national level! It’s been done before and whose to say you can’t make it happen again?
Call To Action:
The following are principles that will keep you relevant and put you in a position to make a difference in the lives of the people you’re leading and help them to deal with the circumstances that we are all feeling in one way or another.
1. As individuals or leaders of an organization continue to lead on the cutting edge. How is this done? By consistently being committed to step 2.
2. Commit to the discipline of learning. Sound easy? Common sense? Well, as we learned from the late great Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “common sense is not common practice.” In my experience as a public leader and speaker I’ve found that the minority of people are avid readers and learners/students of their own industry. I’m not talking about reading the newspaper, reading a book or articles on the internet. Those things are okay, but they are not the same as the discipline, time, and effort it takes to do research and obtain a solid, unbiased understanding of a subject. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, said it takes at least 10,000 hours (the approximate equivalent of 10 years) to become a world class expert in anything. But the key to that time frame is what one does during that time. It’s not automatic just because you’ve been in the same job for ten years. That’s too easy. Experts are people that go the extra mile. They “pay the price.” They are dedicated to discipline and constantly curious to climb the ladder of significance and challenge themselves to always go to the next level by whatever means necessary.
3. Think bigger about leaving a legacy on purpose. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” says the wisdom from the good book. Therefore, because you’re a leader (or desire to become one) allow me to encourage you, here and now, to think bigger about who you are and what you can accomplish both now and after you’re long gone. Trust me when I tell you that your leadership and your relevance are desperately need in your community.
Legacy is automatic. We are either creating and living our life, or we are just reacting and being lived by circumstances. Thus, what will your legacy be? That’s a question not enough people think about. But as it pertains to leadership, you can achieve a great leader legacy by developing superior services. And because of your superiority, your product, organization, and/or skills are passed on and sustained by other excellent leaders after you that have been attracted to you because by investing in you they have found success, significance, and relevance.
As I said, I don’t know where our national elected leaders heads are at. But, regardless of what they are saying, doing, and not doing, don’t let it take away from your aspirations as a local leader to be and remain relevant in your circle of influence. Who knows, you might be, or you might play a part in developing the next individual that puts the nation back on track.