There is a lot of buzz in the world about the need to become an expert in something, a thought leader. This is obviously a worthy goal and your expertise could greatly benefit your company, your community and your career. But…is expertise enough?
Perhaps, what the world really needs is thoughtful leaders—leadership that is in touch with the needs and aspirations of those who follow. Which begs the question, how does one leverage their expertise in a thoughtful way?
Develop Meaningful Expertise
Often times, people are thought leaders, but they present their expertise in the wrong way to the wrong people. It must be a match—your expertise needs to be targeted to those where it provides meaning and engagement. Many times, those who are trying to impress others and be seen as thought leaders, insert their expertise in the wrong places. I’m sure your expertise is valid, just not at this time with this group. Be careful not to fall into this trap.
Take the Time it Needs
Developing expertise does not happen overnight and you can’t “fake it until you make it.” Becoming an expert takes time and you need to develop this expertise through real world experiences and many different research efforts. Just because one person tells you something, does not make it real and doesn’t make you or them an expert. Expertise doesn’t come from one book or one experience. It comes from a relentless curiosity and quest for knowledge combined with trial and error.
Exercise a Soft Touch
Often times real expertise is too heavy handed. Instead of telling people they are wrong and giving them the facts, try a softer approach. Words like, “have you considered,” or “perhaps this could be true,” open up people to actually listen and consider your point of view. Each conversation around something you have expertise in is an opportunity to confirm, grow, and see other viewpoints. A know it all doesn’t often get the listen he or she deserves.
Becoming a thought leader opens up many doors, but how you open them still matters.
Craig S. Galati is a Principal and Shareholder of LGA. His strength lies in helping his team create memorable experiences through design. Through his passion for workshop facilitation and public outreach, Craig has provided invaluable clarity and direction to multiple public and private organizations. Craig is an accomplished speaker and has worked with many organizations on leadership and strategy.