Excerpted from Ken’s book The Expert’s Edge as a seven-part series.
Is it time to find out if you indeed are thoughtleader material?
Maybe you’re a thoughtleader already and don’t know it. Or maybe you do know it, or suspect it, but could use some validation. Finally, do you secretly fear that perhaps you’re not up to the task?
We are all thoughtleaders on some level. If you are an expert on anything at all (engineering, human resources, management, Chinese history, bartending, roofing), you are at least on the launchpad. You see, all thoughtleaders are experts, although not all experts are thoughtleaders. Thoughtleaders are experts who have made a commitment to optimizing their expertise and fine-tuning their expert’s edge.
So in case your own misconceptions have created “thoughtleader jitters” that have been holding you back, here’s a “Thoughtleading Inventory” composed of seven questions and commentaries designed to help you gauge your personal and professional thoughtleading potential. Perhaps this inventory can put your jitters at rest andget you blasting off and away from your thoughtleader launchpad. This installment explores the second question:
Do You Enjoy Finding Creative Solutions to Problems?
When you work with your clients, do you ever run up against a particularly vexing problem? Do you find yourself digging deeper for a solution or developing a new process for resolving a problem? Do you sometimes come up with a completely unexpected happy result?
Are you pleased with yourself when this happens? Does it reinforce your commitment to provide such extra-mile service to your customers?
If so, creativity is in your blood. Creativity is a prime ingredient in thoughtleading. One common “thoughtleading jitter” goes like this: “I don’t have a lot of original ideas; my ideas are just rehashes of what others have said before me.”
Well, maybe, but then again ask yourself this: How extensively have I analyzed the actual work I do for my clients? Am I discounting the original solutions that I come up with every day, failing to recognize them as creative? Could these everyday solutions of mine be packaged as thoughtleading concepts that are unique to me, and me alone?
Let’s say you’re a sales expert who has just written an article about sales closing techniques. The actual techniques you describe may not in and of themselves be terribly different from those described in countless books and articles before yours, but what about the examples you use to support your article? If they are drawn from your client files or if they depict ways of using closing techniques that have been personalized and tested by you, could they then be considered unique and original?
By sharing individualized expressions of concepts that have been thought up and written about before, you can rightfully claim ownership of “creative” solutions. That puts you squarely in a thoughtleading frame of mind.