The concepts and principles in this post were inspired by a presentation given by Jaques Habra at the CCCU Commission on Technology 2015 Conference. Jaques is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker and educator who has spoken to dozens of colleges and universities.
It starts with making a bold statement.
That’s what being a leader requires, according to Jaques Habra. A thought leader is one who will look crazy at first, maybe even for a while.
Think Steve Jobs. It all starts with one person having an idea. A crazy idea. An impossible idea. But this person sticks with this crazy idea and eventually gets other not-so-crazy people to join him or her to accomplish an awesome (impossible) goal.
It looks exactly like this:
If you look back to the starting days of Apple, Inc. you will see a reminder of this crazy-looking dancing fellow. As Jaques reminds us, you will also see that it took time before a few followers caught on board.
Once they did, however, the rest is history.
The First Follower
As you just saw, the first follower is extremely important.
Choose wisely who you are marketing to. You may feel at first that you want someone, anyone, to follow you. But remember: the first follower is plays monumental role. They help set the stage for what is to come. They demonstrate that this idea is worth following.
You must consider who we are marketing to: who do you want to follow you? Especially: who do you want to follow you first? Because once you have a follower, you will want them to be credible. Are they worth following in their example of, well, following you? Will other people want to follow you both together, being that you now share this example?
If you’re going to change the culture, you have to know yourself. Know your capacity, your abilities. Your strengths. Your weaknesses.
Give yourself an honest assessment, and ask your mentor or leader to do the same. Balance your natural qualities with people of opposite nature; this fosters challenge. Ask yourself: who do I want to surround myself with? Who do I need to surround myself with? What is going to cause me to grow and stretch?
What It Takes
Being a thought leader requires seeing the invisible: envisioning a future characterized by impossibility. It takes tremendous self-discipline. And it requires a control of attitude — in the face of failure, loss and defeat, you must hold fast to what you know, admit your shortcomings, make course corrections as necessary, and maintain momentum.
Jaques leaves us with six steps to becoming an influential leader in any field.
Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader
1) Conduct a lot of research.
2) Become an expert — find out what others are doing and learn it, inside and out.
3) Surround yourself with a complementary team, including leadership. Find someone who supports your vision. Find an individual in management to support it and back it up. Think long-term. People want to back up something that’s solid and well-supported.
4) Productize your thoughts. They become tangible, easy to deploy and manage.
5) Set a budget and manage financials tightly. If you know what the cost will be, write it down. Justify it.
6) Determine benchmarks for success and hold yourself accountable. Don’t be afraid to fail. You will, it’s inevitable, if you are to succeed.
“I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot… and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
Failure is not the end. Not trying is.