We Should All Be Thought Leaders: The Power Of Building Personal Brands [Leadership]

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Approaches to career success have undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. Two decades ago, most professionals accepted a path of clocking in at 9, clocking out at 6, day after day, and steadily climbing the corporate ladder within one company.

Fast-forward to today and this strategy seems archaic. Professionals are no longer satisfied with sitting back and settling into predefined paths. Today’s workforce wants to affirm their freedom and independence in their career choices. Many professionals have freelancing gigs or side companies outside of their primary jobs. Additionally, individuals are more eager to step up to the plate within their companies and explore new areas and initiatives.

 This go-getter attitude is especially true for Gen Zers and millennials, who are known for their side hustles and entrepreneurial spirit. But this new attitude has also caught on with older generations, and many individuals sitting in C-suites are finding new ways to extend their professional footprints outside of their job descriptions.

 The era of the lifelong employee is gone. Entry-level professionals and corporate executives alike want fulfillment over the duration of their careers. It’s difficult to stay challenged and engaged if you’re in the same position for decades. To combat this, professionals are switching companies more often, and sometimes jumping into entirely new career paths.

 The average professional will take on 10 to 15 jobs over the course of their professional lifetime. In past decades this type of pivoting would have sparked red flags, but not anymore. The stigma of job or career-hopping is diminishing. In fact, today’s employers recognize that some of the best and brightest professionals are those who get the three-year itch and take the initiative to find new opportunities and challenges.

Knowing that nothing lasts forever, professionals at every level are finding ways to develop their personal brands by publishing their insights and opinions on their areas of expertise. Even with an increasingly automated workforce, there’s no substitution for innovation and guidance. Every professional has the opportunity to develop his or her voice and authority, but it takes dedication and grit to follow through.

If you’re contemplating entering the thought-leader space, here are a few benefits that might tip the scales.

New Connections

When you publish your ideas for the world to see, you invariably invite the responses and opinions of others. In fact, publishing across today’s digital platforms is one of the best ways to gain exposure to new people and fields. Imagine this: you’re a CMO of a small tech startup in Milwaukee. Now, in a relatively small startup scene, you likely don’t have the opportunity to meet leaders based in the major tech hubs like San Francisco, New York and London. But by publishing your thoughts and viewpoints on emerging trends and industry-specific predictions, on platforms like LinkedIn and Medium, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to reach, and subsequently connect with, a wide array of leaders and innovators.  

New Ideas 

Any leader knows that the quickest way to stagnation is to surround yourself with people who constantly agree with you. Unfortunately for CEOs and entrepreneurs, many employees don’t always feel comfortable with disagreeing outright with your ideas and opinions.

By creating a thought leader niche for yourself, you have the opportunity to open yourself up to responses and critiques from individuals who don’t have anything to lose by disagreeing with you. Some professionals might balk at the notion of subjecting themselves to critiques and disagreements, but successful individuals realize that the best way to grow professionally and intellectually is to expose oneself to a wide variety of points of view.

 New Opportunities

 In today’s landscape, permanence is becoming less common. Whether you want to constantly challenge yourself and tackle new projects and problems, or whether you’re part of a growing startup eyeing an exit strategy, chances are you won’t always be in your current position.

By committing yourself to participating in online discourse, you naturally open yourself up to new opportunities. The article you publish on Medium about the changing nature of corporate philanthropy may end up in the news feed of a founder looking to revamp a corporate vertical, and before you know it you’re in talks to spearhead an entirely new initiative.

By taking control of your narrative you have the chance to position yourself for fresh opportunities. Developing a personal brand by showcasing your personality, ideas and intellect can give you the tools to proactively take control of the next step of your career.