The concept of “thought leader” is relatively new. Google’s Ngram Viewer shows that the term barely registered in print prior to the late 1990s when internet became mainstream.
Thought leaders had no readily available media to convey their expertise before blogs, social media, and podcasts. That changed at the turn of the century.
Thought leaders are individuals or companies that are experts in their respective industries. They built reputations for being accurate, authoritative, innovative, and reliable commentators in specialized fields. Thought leaders are influencers with the power to start discussions about various aspects of their industry, and disrupt the status quo.
Human Resources thought leaders understand the changing dynamics of the industry in the 21st century. Globalization and technology have streamlined some HR duties, while simultaneously expanding the overall scope. Thought leadership is essential for influencing policymakers, advancing successful practices, and shaping the industry as a whole. The most successful HR thought leaders possess the following five characteristics.
Confidence is Key
Self-confident people overcome fears. They set high bars for themselves, step out of their comfort zones, and believe in what they’re doing even when others don’t. Human nature innately processes self-confidence as appealing, fascinating and magnetic. Some researchers suggest that both men and women are more attracted to self-confidence over looks on first dates. Self-confidence provides a preview of other personality traits (e.g. kindness, ambition) that cannot be directly observed in one evening. This same theory has been proven in occupational settings as well.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that overconfidence in oneself led to higher social status. The study also found that overconfidence was perceived as competence by others. People with bloated egos continue their behavior because it leads to higher social status. The science is clear. Present yourself as confident and others will listen and follow you.
JK Rowling is the most successful author in history. She became the first billionaire author in 2015 when the Harry Potter series sold its 400 millionth copy. It is the best-selling book series of all time. But Harry Potter may have never happened without Rowling’s perseverance. She wrote the first Potter book in cafes while surviving on government benefits. It was rejected by twelve publishers before one finally accepted. Rowling continued forward despite all the setbacks, and the rest is history.
HR managers present ideas to C-level management that sometimes get rejected. They overcome these challenges by asking questions and making adjustments. Perseverance is also crucial when learning new, complex technologies and skills. Intelligence gets you to the starting block. Perseverance guides you to the finish line.
Thought leadership is a form of content marketing. The most influential thought leaders regularly utilize blogs, Youtube, social media and podcasts. Consistent publishing is essential not only for keep followers engaged, but also for SEO purposes. Regular blogging and social media posting make you stand out from the crowd. But all content is not created equal.
Content marketing is time-consuming. Google and Facebook algorithms favor content that teaches, engages, and adds valuable to the given subject matter. Most thought leaders hire freelance writers or employ full-time strategists for their content needs. Organizations ask employees to write blogs. Consistency is the key regardless of method and medium.
A faint grinding noise while braking in your car is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong. Worn brake pads are likely. But the problem could be more complex. That faint grinding noise gets louder the longer you ignore it. Repairs costs would have been $100 had the work been done immediately upon discovery. Now the rotors and calipers needs replacing as well, bloating the repair bill over $1,000.
Strong HR leaders nip problems in the bud immediately. They don’t wait for problems to fix themselves. Fixing minor issues before they hurt the company is the philosophy of proactive HR managers. For instance, an employee brings their dog to work everyday because company policy allows it. The HR manager notices the looks on other’s faces as the dog walks around the office and interrupts their workflows. A private conversation or email to the dog owner stating that they are abusing the policy prevents the issue from spiraling out of control.
Lead By Example
Whether its new time clock procedures or new healthcare plans, the burden is on HR to ensure everyone understands and acclimates. Humans are creatures of habit. We don’t necessarily like change. HR managers must demonstrate all new protocols and answer questions thereof. Make private meetings with employees who are reluctant or having a hard time adjusting. Smooth implementation means comprehensive communication.
HR leaders place their companies in the best position to succeed with these five traits. They set themselves up to become thought leaders in the industry.
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