Executive Insider

Are You A Thought Leader That Wants to Disrupt Your Industry?

In my latest book, Indispensable, I point out that many thought leadership disruptors are remarkable abstract thinkers that love to imagine the future – think Musk, Jobs and Bezos. They also like to spend time wrangling over intellectual debates. This can make them appear overly competitive and, downright arrogant. If you’re a leader that wants to disrupt your industry, I have some tips for you.

Here is my best advice straight from the work I do with other high achieving leaders whom I advise and coach:

  • Since you are able to express your insights and vision in a clear and crisp way, people tend to pay attention to what you have to say. However, you often leave out key details and, as a consequence; you sometimes talk right over your team’s respective heads. They are unable to comprehend all of the implications and ambiguities in what you see.

    Therefore, it is essential that you slow things down when sharing your ideas and take the time to identify the subtleties and consequences of the big ideas that you’re socializing. If you don’t, you risk the opportunity to achieve mutual understanding.

  • Equally, you have the capacity to remain cool under pressure and regulate how you communicate by deliberately managing how you react and respond. This makes you a formidable negotiator. It also makes you seem unreasonable to your stakeholders, including staff, strategic partners and your customer.

    These are risks that you don’t have to take. People don’t want to feel intimidated. In fact, intimidation is often a tool used by less skilled communicators. Instead, work towards adopting a keen third eye, one that enables you to see you from an outsider’s viewpoint. This kind of insight can provide the perspective required for you to soften your edges and achieve your goals without alienating your key stakeholders.

  • As you tend to develop your vision and strategies without a lot of input from others, you can come across as being stubborn and unable to see any other viewpoint, especially those that may challenge your stated point of view

    You will lose followership if you allow this to continue. So, STOP! Rather, work on being more inclusive. Engage your team in brainstorming with you as you evolve your ideas about the future. They will appreciate being counted in and you have the opportunity to expand your thinking by observing their responses to your ideas.

  • Because you make time for intellectual curiosity, seeking to better understand and anticipate future trends in business, innovation, and global matters. However, this insatiable longing for more knowledge and insight sometimes creates conflicts in your everyday life. Interpersonal relationships can suffer along with your physical and mental well-being.

    This means you must do two things:
    a) Schedule and take a break or two each day to recharge and rejuvenate
    b) Be present in all of your interactions with others.

    Of course, there are implications with both actions. For instance, you need to shut off the phone, unplug from the computer and take the time for self-care by working out, taking a work outdoors and quieting your mind by listening to music or meditating.

    You also need to focus on those people whom you’re interacting with by actively listening, reacting, empathizing and responding to those people in your life. Don’t be texting or reading emails when you’re having your next conversation. Just be there with others and share the moment. It will add years to your life.

To sum, it is awesome to be a pioneering thought leader and visionary. However, it can be a lonely existence, too. Consequently, you have to periodically step out of your headspace and see the world through the lenses of others. If you learn to do this, you will connect more wholly with others and live a fuller life as you lead your organization to tomorrow.

Written by James M. Kerr. Have you read?
World’s Best Countries to Headquarter Multinational Corporations (MNCs).
World’s Most Powerful Countries.

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James Kerr
James M. Kerr, founder at Indispensable Consulting, is a long-time management consultant, vision maker and leadership coach. For nearly 30 years, he has helped his clients re-imagine the way work is organized and performed. His latest book, Indispensable: Build and Lead A Company Customers Can’t Live Without is his 6th business title. Kerr is an expert in leadership, strategy, organizational design and cultural transformation. James Kerr is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.