The expertise you have today might be less relevant five to ten years from now. The irony of thought leadership is that the more you focus on a particular area of expertise, the harder it becomes to foresee changes or come up with new ideas. This is because you become entrenched in your own way of thinking and may struggle to see the bigger picture. If you’re steeped in your area of expertise for too long, it becomes harder and harder to foresee changes or put forth new ideas.

To advance frameworks or points of view, one cannot be a thought leader, at least not at the outset. You have to be willing to put forth ideas that are half-baked. My go-to rules in the age of social:

Surround yourself with folks with different expertise and diverging points of view. Listening to many different opinions doesn't diminish your capacity to decide. Instead it helps you expand your understanding of a topic and gain new insights and enhances your decision making skills by providing you with a more holistic perspective.

Another key to being a successful thought leader is to remember that there are very few truly "new" ideas. Instead, what makes an idea unique is the approach you take to it. By shifting your focus from trying to come up with something completely original to finding a new way to approach an existing idea, you can reduce the fear of looking foolish and allow yourself to be more creative.

Thought leadership is a dynamic and ever-changing field, and the only way to stay relevant is to be open to new ideas, to surround yourself with people who have different perspectives and focus on new ways to approach existing problems rather than trying to come up with a completely new idea. Being aware of these principles can help you navigate the irony of thought leadership, and position yourself as a leader in your industry.

About the author

Isabelle Perreault

Isabelle is the Founder and CEO of Differly. She has spent her career helping business leaders understand the major drivers of change and helping them survive and thrive in a digital economy. She brings deep expertise in business transformation, corporate and business model innovation and go-to-market planning.

For over 20 years, she has been helping leaders in a wide variety of sectors develop and deploy human-centric, tech-enabled growth strategies. Passionate about entrepreneurship she also serves as a business coach to Startups with several incubators. Prior to launching Differly, she led one of the first Digital Transformation Practices in Canada and was head of Digital Strategy and Marketing for the Ottawa Senators, NHL Hockey Club.Isabelle is Chair of the Ottawa Youth Services Bureau Foundation and a champion for women entrepreneurs.

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