Being a thought leader is your responsibility

Move from a “Who am I to do this?” attitude to a “If not me then who” attitude. This was my single biggest takeaway from the reputation management class on Thought Leadership.

As I wind down my year at the GSB, there are many things I feel thankful for and many things that have impressed me about the institution. However, there is ONE thing that I think GSB can do better. It can do a better job of bringing people who want to work on similar ideas together. Currently there is no convenient portal for students willing and eager to explore entrepreneurial ideas on a topic to know each other, brain storm and possibly team-up to work together. I passionate about this issue. However, I’m not alone. There is always some issue that you will feel very strongly about. Something you KNOW has to change. This is often the setting for a thought leader to step up, gather advocates and lead. So what is stopping me? What is stopping you?

There are often many excuses.

  • Why me? Who made me important enough to tackle this?
  • Do I have time for this?
  • Will people think I have an ulterior motive?

Lets deal with each excuse in order:

Why me? This first excuse is often the toughest to overcome. This is where the shift in attitude helps. If not me then who? In other words.

Thought leadership is not a privilege its a responsibility

Do I have time for this? If you are passionate about the issue, you will make it part of your time. You will make career choices that will facilitate yoru involvement in the issue. Zoe Duning, who was one of teh guest speakers fo rteh day and who led the movement for the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell in US armed forces, did her part while still actively working as a consultant for Deloitte.

Will people think I have an ulterior motive? Thought leadership is not a one-man show. You need to gather advocates, you need to work with people and convince them with your passion. When you do this, you will often become a leader by your actions rather than assuming leadership by choice.

Thought leadership is not about being known, it is about being known for making a difference

It often surprises me how certain thoughts and notions get crystalized when you hear others summarize them for you. This is often the role of a mentor. Crystalizing, summarizing and synthesizing the information that you already knew into nuggets of wisdom that you can treasure. Compact them into vitamin pills that you can take every once in a while when you have a bout of “directionlessness”. Create mind spaces for you to slip into to re-energize and revitalize yourself and your career. Denise Brosseau, who co-teaches a course on Though Leadership at Stanford, along with Zoe Duning, who has led the movement for the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell in US armed forces, acted as mentors when they were the guest speakers in the reputation management class about thought leadership. I thank them for the gift.