From Person of Influence to Thought Leader

By Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner

A person of influence within a company is like a great basketball player, inspiring their team members to bring their A-game to the court. Like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, they made even the shortest member of the team feel like they could soar up to the hoop and score a slam dunk. Their influence makes everyone better!

A person of influence isn’t afraid to speak up and add to the long-term vision for the business. In staff meetings, they’re the ones pitching the exciting, innovative, big-picture ideas. They’re constantly networking, gaining knowledge from others, keeping up with the latest trends and current events, and using that info to shake up the culture of their company. They challenge the team to stretch themselves and grow.

People of influence often go on to become thought leaders — casting a much broader net. In that position, they are humble, and their intelligence is respected — not only in the academic sense, but also in implementing  successful applications in the real world!

By the time they’re considered thought leaders, others come to them for ideas and advice. As a leader, you’ll want to reach a point in which peers and younger professionals seek you out for counsel and guidance. Reaching this point provides validation that you’ve been doing something right all these years! Thought leaders also allow themselves to be vulnerable, acknowledging what they don’t know but also recognizing the opportunity to learn new data and theories.

Thought leaders are particularly important now. In these divisive times, people from all disciplines want leaders  who can see both sides of an issue and bring an impartial balance to the discussion. Thought leaders provide calm, civil discourse amid the contentious rhetoric spreading these days.

How can you grow to be regarded as a thought leader? Express yourself! Post your professional tips and ideas on LinkedIn. Start a blog on your company’s website. Look for opportunities to speak at events within your industry and community. Provide honest and constructive feedback when asked.

It’s one thing to be a leader; it’s another to be a respected leader. So, whenever you have the chance, be sure to speak up, help out and lend your thoughts to business matters.

In times of heightened emotions, you need “an adult in the room” to move discussions to a fruitful conclusion. Good luck!

If we can assist you further with your personal and business affairs, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email