The 3 Responsibilities of a Thought Leader

Marketing, ResponsibilityA clear and simple definition of Responsibility is: “The ability to respond.”

What separates thought leaders in professional fields such as: marketing, academic, business training, spirituality, philosophy (or any other discipline you can think of ) is their ability to respond to uncertainty.

Amateurs react. Professionals respond.

After 17+ memorablem years of teaching direct marketing strategies to work-at-home entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, professional speakers and corporate giants such as Sams Club, I’ve observed that world-class professionals are defined by 3 core responsibilities.

If you want to become a social influencer or thought leader in your area of expertise, these 3 responsibilities can expand your public authority online and offline with reliable certainty.

Responsibility #1:  Define Reality. 

I learned this from Max De Pree, former CEO of Herman Miller and best-selling author of Leadership Is an Art.  Max says, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.”

I agree. And I also know that while most of my marketing students and mentoring clients want to get to their “Point B” as quickly and effortlessly as possible, what’s far more important is to define their “Point A.” It’s critical to do this with crystal clarity, even before even considering your journey toward “Point B.”

I often say, “The only thing worse than going in the wrong direction … is to go in the wrong direction enthusiastically!”  And so it is with with entrepreneurs and professionals in all fields of business.  Many of these men and women are so eager to start a hero’s journey toward their self-acclaimed “promise land,” they often forget to clearly define their starting point (Point A).

Action Step: The way I’ve defined reality with my tribe is utilizing assessments, “intakes” and questionnaires.  Back in 2002, I created AskDatabase.com and the “Ask Campaign” was born (borrowing shameless from none other than the great, Socrates.

Today, I define reality for my MarketingOnline.com members by first running them through the Marketing Hero Test assessment found at MarketingOnline.com … Go there and check it out to find out how other professionals see you in business and in life.

Responsibility #2:  Protect Confidence.

Nothing in your personal or professional life is more important than protecting your confidence, and the confidences of others closest to you.

Confidence is the Holy Grail to your ability and resolve to facing fear, self-doubt and all the uncertainties our business and personal life hurls at us.

Wikipedia defines Confidence as, “a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective.”  Peter Drucker used to say, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.  Protecting one’s confidence makes it easier for anyone to be more effective with their unique abilities.

I learned all about Unique Abilities from my friend, Dan Sullivan. A strategic entrepreneur’s ability to protect his or her confidence is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve ever learned from Dan, who is co-founder of Strategic Coach.

Action Step: The easiest way to protect your confidence is to strengthen your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.  Period.

Whatever daily activities make you “feel strong” are your strengths. So do what it takes to spend 80% or more of your time doing those things. The activities that drain, bore or weaken you are your weaknesses.  Outsource those things to people who enjoy doing them.

Like my friend John Assaraf say, “Hire the people who play at the things you have to work at.”  My best solution is visit FreedomOutsourcing.com and get your recurring, redundant online marketing tasks (such as writing blog posts, SEO or social media marketing) done for about 20 cents on the dollar!

Responsibility #3:  Communicate with Compassion.

If you’ve ever seen me on stage, you’ve probably heard me say this:

“The quality of my life is determined by the quantity of my trusted relationships. And the quantity of my trusted relationships is determined by the clarity of communications. Therefore, the clarity of my communications determine the quality of my life!”

So many things can go wrong when your communications lack clarity, right?  In my own experience, I’ve found even added touches such as: “:-)” or “;-)” are ineffective in my private email messages to friends and colleagues if the topic I’m talking about is touch controversial.

My favorite quote on communication is by George Bernard Shaw and I have it framed in my home office. I read it out loud before writing a blog post (like this one), delivering a G+ Hangout at MarketingOnlineHangout.com or sending a broadcast email to my online list.  Here’s the quote:

“The greatest problem of communication is the illusion it has been accomplished.”

So true.

I don’t know how many family arguments I would have avoided over the years if I just remembered to repeat George’s witty and sage words before I dove into the conversation.

I’ve learned truckloads about the principle of Compassion from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Wikipedia defines it as the “virtue of empathy for the suffering of others.” My aim is to remember to put compassion into my communications whenever I want to overcome a major challenge, breaking through a roadblock or giving “feedback” to a team member.

Compassion is about leadership.  Why?  Well, take a closer look at the word and you’ll find three words nested inside.

The first is “compass” which is a useful tool for direction. Leadership is about direction and world-class thought leaders have moral compasses, emotional compasses, mental compasses and ethical compasses to help them maneuver through rock infested water rapids we face in business today.

The second nested word is “passion.” I have yet to see a successful leader who doesn’t reek passion in most of his or her affairs. And the third word is “ion.” This word is interesting to me only because an ion is binary in its expression.

Turning to Wikipedia again, “an ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving the atom a net positive or negative electrical charge.

In other words, ions are decisive.  They are either positive or negative. They aren’t “neutral.”  And so it is with thought leadership.  If you’re considered a leader in your field of interest, chances are your followers and colleagues respect and admire you most for your decisiveness. True or true?!  ;-)

Action Step: The next time you face a tough decision that could have dramatic consequences to those you lead, give yourself 24 hours of critical thinking time so you can add a few dashes of compassion to your final decision.

There are always winners and losers with every tough decision and I’ve found it’s far more important to consider and closely evaluate what the losers are about to lose than what the winners will gain, especially if you’re one of the people winning!

Please comment and share your opinion about anything I said in the post in the Facebook comments section below.

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