“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.”
The second sentence in the above quote seems particularly pertinent to the work of financial advisers. Isn’t that what all advisers do? Or should do?
They inspire others to think differently; to change course in their lives and to achieve different things than they might otherwise.
Clients, peers, staff, younger advisers whom they are mentoring…all are inspired by great advisers. All are taught to think in different and new directions.
So I have concluded that all great advisers are thought leaders.
But they usually do not see themselves that way. Perhaps I should have said all “good” advisers are thought leaders, but it is only the great ones who realise it and embrace it. Maybe a major difference between the great advisers and those that are just “good” is the willingness to accept the role, and responsibility, of being a thought leader.
When I say “accept” it, I mean that they get comfortable in their own minds with it, as opposed to having it conferred on them by others. It does seem to be pretentious at first, but once a professional accepts in their own mind that a large element of their role is to move and inspire others, rather than simply advise, it changes their approach to business and the world at large. There is a responsibility to continue educating others, and developing ideas and being innovative with solutions, and thinking more strategically about trends and implications of events and decisions.
I believe that accepting that being a thought leader is what leads to a virtuous cycle of thinking more strategically, and being more willing to take the risk of speaking out first, or with what may be perceived as radically different ideas. In other words, accepting the epithet creates the responsibility of living up to it.
The professionals whom I have observed over the years who have accepted the responsibility and embrace it inevitably become great professionals who motivate many many others.
There is no doubt in my mind that advisers wanting to move from being “good” to becoming a highly valued and great professional must begin by accepting that their’s is a thought leadership role.
It is the very thing that separates the good from the great.