How Do Leaders Influence Others: 3 Keys in Thought Leadership

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How do leaders influence others?

Leaders are more than just the people who tell other people what to do. They're also the ones who change the way that other people think about things.

Influence is a key to thought leadership because it means you can have an impact on others' minds and hearts by sharing your ideas and experiences with them.

Both leaders and influence can result in thought leadership. Thought leadership is the ability to inspire others through your ideas and influence them to follow your lead. It's not just about being a great speaker or having a big personality—it's about using your ideas and experience to help others do the same thing.

I think it's important to start with an understanding of the three keys to thought leadership. So for today’s episode, we will discuss all about that.

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Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: John Maxwell famously said that, "If you think you're leading and there is no one following, then you're just taking a walk." Yeah, that's right. Because leadership rises and falls, as Maxwell says, on influence. And if you don't have influence, then you're really not leading and it doesn't matter what type of leadership. 

And so today we're going to dive into how you can have more influence as a thought leader in your field. Hey, everyone. Welcome to Thoughts On Thought Leadership with Atiba. I am your host— that's right! I am Atiba. And today we're going to be talking about influence because influence is one of those things that— we all want it. And honestly, oftentimes we don't even know how to get it. We look at other people in they'd look like, "Oh my gosh, they've got millions of followers. Oh my gosh, they're doing all of these great things." But do they actually have influence having lots of followers doesn't mean that you have influence. 

Okay. So followers then become this vanity metric. Why do I say that? Okay. Let's dive in. Why do I say having lots of followers, does it mean that you have influence? Because we see it now time and time and time again, Instagram, Tiktok famous people with millions of followers who are dead broke. Why? Because they have no influence because their word— even though people are watching them, their word carries no weight for those people to actually want to take action and do something. 

And listen, we're in business. We are business owners. We are business people. We are business executives. If we can't get people to take action on our products and services, then guess what? We don't have influence and we're not in business. Our business will go out of business very, very quickly. But it's not about followers in the big counts, but it's about influence. 

So now let's dive into three keys, three keys to developing influence as a thought leader. Number one, you've got to be genuine. In 2022 and beyond, people are tired of marketing hype. People are tired of all the flash and bang and they want to know what's real. Are you real? Are you genuine? Are you going to share and say, "Hey, this is the good, and this is the bad." 

Let's be honest, your company, isn't perfect. Your product or service. Isn't perfect. And it's not right for everyone. Are you going to be honest about that? Or are you just going to portray like, oh my gosh, my thing is the greatest. You need to buy it. Even when you know it doesn't fit them. Are you going to hide the warts in your product and hope that no one ever sees? 

Because you're afraid that if they see the warts, they won't want to buy and then they buy it and they find out the warts anyway, and then they feel duped. 

That all eats away at your influence. People want you to be genuine today. They want to know that they can trust you today, for the good and the bad. For the good and the bad. They want to be able to connect with you. They want to feel like you didn't just knock on the door— let let's go back. Let's go back.

Let's go back. Back in the day, right. People used to go door to door, knock on your door. And if you opened that door and there was someone there trying to sell something in your mind, you were trying to close that door as quickly as possible, unless they found a way to connect with you and make you feel really great about them and your connection with them. Would you want to invite them into your house? And if you invited them into your house, maybe just, maybe, you just brought them into the foyer of your house. Maybe they did a really good job. Maybe they got to your kitchen table, but if they were stellar, they got all the way into your living room. Into your private space in your living room, where you entertain your friends because they became your friend. Hey, listen. In 2022 and beyond, people don't want to do business with people at the door. They want to do business with friends that they've invited into their living room.

They want to trust you. They want to build a relationship with you. And the only way you can do that is by being genuine with them. So that's number one. Number one, we must be genuine. Number two, you've got to have expertise. So you've built this great relationship. You've gotten all the way into their living room proverbially, and now they're talking to you and they realize, oh no, crap. 

Guess what? That's an easy recipe to getting kicked out. You've got to be an expert in your field. Now, what I mean by an expert in your field, that means that whatever it is that you do, you have to have some part of that thing that you do, that you do better than anyone else. It doesn't mean that you have to know everything about everything.

But it does mean that the piece of it that you bring that's different than everybody else, you've got to know that inside and out. And then be honest about the other part, getting back to genuine, being honest about the other parts that maybe this is not your best. 

You gotta be an expert in the part that you bring, that only you bring. You know, you hear other people talk about this and they say, "You have to opinionated." And yes. Yes. To an extent you do have to be opinionated to be a thought leader, but you're opinionated as a thought leader because you're an expert at something that you are the absolute best at, that you have figured out some way to solve your customer's problem, that everybody else is still struggling with, but you have some fantastic way of doing that.

That is expertise. And that's what your customer's looking for. When you're being genuine with them, that's what they're looking for you to bring to them, that expertise. They'd say, "this is what I stand on. This is what I am great at." That my friends, that my friends, is what will get you to that sale. And to become a thought leader. Now, obviously I've even been kind of using this example of, you know, the old school, door to door salesman who knocked on the door. And we talked about that and you invite him to the foyer, maybe if invite him to the kitchen table, but if they were really good, you've invited them into the living room of your house. 

Well, I'm going to go out here on a limb and say, you don't want to go door to door in 2022 and beyond, I'm going to go out on a limb and make that prediction. I don't think you actually want to go door to door. So you're probably listening as example. You're saying, "Dude, I'm not going door to door." So I get your example, but I'm not going door to door. 

How does that work today? And it works today based on your platform. That's the third tip. There's a third. Right. That's the third thing. So number one was genuineness. Number two was having expertise. And the third is the platform. 

You have to know the platform where your audience is. I see. So often people who, who say, "Hey man, Tiktok is the future. Tiktok is where it's at!" And they want to go and post all this content on Tiktok, and get all of these followers on Tiktok. 

And in fact, they're doing great things on Tiktok, but their audience is on LinkedIn. And so there's a mismatch. So, it's not enough, guys, to just have the genuineness and also the expertise. You have to understand the platform because the platform, my friends, is how that entire example that I gave you before of going from the doorbell. 

Right. Because none of us actually want to go door to door. I know that. I know you don't want to go door to door, so you'll probably wondering, "Dude, why are you telling me about door to door? It makes sense, but how do I translate it?" It's all about the platform. So you don't want to go door to door, but there is a doorbell that you can ring on every single platform to reach your audience. Now that doorbell, depending on the platform, maybe a post that you put up, and maybe the hashtags that you use on that post so that they see your posts. Okay. They saw it, they saw it, now what? Well, now you want to get invited into the foyer and getting invited into the foyer. 

Might've meant that you created a content that was reactive enough that they press the like button. They say, "Ooh, I like this. I liked this", but that's not good enough because you really want to get to the kitchen table next. Right. And start conversation. And start conversations so, the content has to inspire them to leave a comment. 

And now they've left a comment and we're at the kitchen table, and we're now conversing back and forth on a post. What about the living room? What about the living room? Well, the truth of the matter is on just about every social platform. The living room is that DM's. Is the DM's. Now, you know, like I know if somebody just jumped into your DM that you've never heard of before.

You're probably not going to interact with them. But if you've seen their post, if you've liked some of their posts, if you even commented on some of their posts and they've commented back and maybe you had a little conversation and then they sent your direct message, you're more apt to respond. That's what you do. 

And guess what, that's what your clients will do as well. That's what they'll do as well. So, The three keys the three keys to building influence as a thought leader, starting at the top, you've got to be genuine. You've gotta be real with people. You've got to say, Hey, this is me. This is my company. This is what we're great at. 

These are our awards. This is how we can help you. This is how we can't help you. This is who we help. This is who we don't help. We are real people want to connect with real people. Number two, you must be an expert. So after you've been connecting with—you gotta be an expert. You gotta be good at what you do, understanding exactly what you're doing, what you bring to them. 

You've got to be an expert. And number three, you've got to do it on the right platform. You've got to do it on the right platform. Okay. Figure out where your people are, where they're consuming information. And let me just say this before I go on platform. 'Cause some of you will say, "Oh, but they are on Tiktok and they're watching on Tiktok." 

Yeah. But are they going to take that for recreation or for what you're bringing to their attention or are they going to LinkedIn for what you're bringing to their, to their attention? It isn't just that they're there, but why are they there? Are they there for you or are they there to escape work and the product or service even maybe that you bring to them. Alright. So, guys, that's it. Those are the three keys. Those are the three keys to building influence as a thought leader. Genuineness, gotta be real with people, it must be an expert, and you must do it on the right platform. As always, if you've got any questions, drop me a line down below would love to talk to you. 

If you want to challenge this opinion. That's fine too, because guess what? This is my opinion. This is my expertise. This is what I stand on. Alright, I'll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.


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