Richard Branson is a good example of an international business thought leader.
What is a thought leader
Thought leadership is a simple concept, but like most buzzwords, thought leadership is often misused and misunderstood.
Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success.
A successful community usually has thought leaders amongst them
Some call them movers and shakers, others call them entrepreneurs. Whatever you call them, it requires building communities where support services are accessible to even the most vulnerable and marginalised residents. Every community has its thought leaders, but they often require an outsider to bring them to the fore.
The good thing is that most regional communities don’t require a Richard Branson to come and provide the thought leadership. There are thought leaders in most communities, they just need a little encouragement.
It means addressing a lack of infrastructure, poor housing, inequality, low education levels, disasters, trauma, and a lack of outdoor spaces for play and physical activity. Sport is generally low on the agenda.
“Business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another one coming”. Richard Branson
Being recognised as a thought leader in a community is an ambitious undertaking, one that requires many skills and a great deal of experience. Being able to bring people together and providing the ideas, opportunities and the motivation can be exasperating as most communities don’t move very fast. The people like their comfort zones.
A key to the success of a community’s thought leader is their ability to bring together all parties, or stakeholders in the community. Businesses, non-profit organisations, advisors, community leaders and local government.
There are a lot of diversified interests to cope with and it will require real leadership in the quality of thoughts and the way they are introduced.
However, they must all step outside our comfort zones and support ideas and opportunities that have the potential to transform the community into something the community really wants and needs.
Opportunities and possibilities are everywhere
Unfortunately, there are many people living on the margins in regional, rural and remote communities. Many have been left out of any government programs and local initiatives. The aim should be to ensure everyone has the opportunity to improve their life while no one is left behind.
We especially need to make sure our young people are a priority when it comes to creating jobs and business opportunities.
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I became interested in thought leadership as a way of inspiring businesses, non-profit organisations, communities and advisors to become action orientated. To me, it was simply coming up with new ideas and ways and means of motivating people and moving them out of their comfort zones.
In becoming respected as a thought leader I quickly found that I had become much more captivating, challenging and motivational with my thinking and ideas. Even for people already familiar with their organisation or community.
Being a thought leader can help to start an important conversation and a relationship where none exists, and you need to be able to add value to existing relationships. And you don’t have to be a Richard Branson to become a thought leader in your community.
In recent years I think I have been doing this in the development of my writing about small businesses, non-profit organisations, communities and the advisors who support them. Health and well-being in small enterprises have also been one of my pet subjects, based on the health issues I have had to endure and overcome.