Why The Best Leaders Become Thought Leaders

Why The Best Leaders Become Thought Leaders

John Eades 07/12/2021
Why The Best Leaders Become Thought Leaders

Over the years, leaders leverage a wide variety of experiences that they turn into actionable knowledge.

Of course, it's one thing to obtain knowledge. What you do with it is something else entirely.

Too often, professionals hoard knowledge and keep it to themselves. After all, they put in all the work to acquire it. Why should someone else get the benefits without putting in the blood, sweat, and tears themselves?

In reality, however, the best leaders take the opposite approach. They relish the opportunity to share their wisdom with others — even people outside their company.

The best leaders relish the opportunity to share their wisdom with others. 

What is a Thought Leader?

The term thought leader has been overblown and might even be a bit scary to most people. In reality, thought leadership is simply the expression of ideas that demonstrate you have expertise in a particular field, area, or topic. 

Thought leadership is demonstrated in two ways:

  1. Externally - Typically demonstrated through large social media followings. Ideas and insights change the behaviors of large groups of people in all different industries.
  2. Internally - Typically demonstrated within a company or team. Ideas and insights influence smaller and often more tangible relationships.

Regardless of which one resonates with you more, as long as you can be a trusted source to educate and inspire people with your ideas, you either are or can be a thought leader.  

In fact, the best leaders become thought leaders not for money, fame, or accolades but for one big reason; to help others.

You Have Insight to Share

Having had the opportunity to teach and coach thousands of leaders, the most common cause of not sharing insight with others or becoming a thought leader isn't selfishness; it's often imposter syndrome.  

In many ways, I don't blame people for feeling this way. Everyone sharing their highlight reels on social media has tricked people into comparing themselves to others. This comparison causes people to believe they aren't good or worthy enough to share their expertise with others. 

The thing is, your hard work and professional experiences are what make you an expert. While the best leaders understand that they can always learn from others, it's okay to recognize that there are areas where you have expertise that can help others be more effective and successful. 

The best leaders share expertise to help others be more effective and successful.

I recently read a great example of this in the book "60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery" by Josh Steimle. In a book that is focused on teaching people who feel like relative novices on LinkedIn how to optimize their profile, Steimle writes the following:

"You don't have to know more than everyone else in order to teach — you only need to know more than your audience. However little you feel you know about LinkedIn, there are thousands of people who know less than you do. That means you can help them. As you help others, you'll become more analytical in your thinking. You'll create experiments, you'll study, and you'll learn more about LinkedIn than I or anyone else can teach you."

This quote is just as applicable to any other type of knowledge business leaders have. But it also hints at a crucial point — that sharing your knowledge can benefit you, not just your audience.

Why Share Your Knowledge?

Transferring knowledge to your team and others is one of the best ways to create an actual win-win scenario. Here are a few benefits of making this a habit.

1. You Act Like a Leader 

Whether you think of yourself as a leader or not, you behave like one when you share wisdom with others. A leader is someone whose actions inspire, empower and serve in order to elevate others. It's a sacred responsibility for someone to call you a leader, and the only way others do that is if they trust and respect you. 

It's a sacred responsibility for someone to call you a leader, and the only way others do that is if people trust and respect you. 

In an interview with Bobby Starks, I shared some expertise to help inspire managers to act as leaders.

2. You Improve Your Communication Skills 

Sharing knowledge with others shouldn't start with benefiting yourself but mastering your communication skills is a fantastic byproduct. Regardless of your industry or role, being a highly effective communicator will supercharge your career. 

Regardless of your industry or role, being a highly effective communicator will supercharge your career. 

You may be surprised to discover that communication skills are among the three most important leadership skills for professionals to demonstrate, according to preliminary research by LearnLoft. 

The simple act of writing, speaking, teaching, or coaching others provides invaluable repetitions to hone your skills. If you are interested in resources to improve your communications skills check out the Effective Communication for Leaders Workshop. 

3. You Improve the Team's Performance and Loyalty 

Communicating knowledge is one of the best ways to enhance the performance of your team. Because the performance of a team is a reflection of the communication they receive. 

The performance of a team is a reflection of the communication they receive.  

As you share time and knowledge, you demonstrate through your words and actions your heart for others. Your team members will respect and be motivated to give their best effort. Better yet, you will empower your team members to use this newfound knowledge to improve their performance continually.

4. You Foster a More Collaborative Culture

As a leader, your example sets the tone for your team's culture, including how employees share knowledge. In this case, a willingness to share your knowledge helps create a more collaborative and elite culture. 

Great leaders share their expertise with others to help create a collaborative and elite culture.

A research report from CultureIQ found that companies with strong collaborative cultures had a 20 percent higher quality rating from employees. This type of positive culture is key to attracting, retaining, and nurturing top talent. 


"Sharing is caring" is a commonly used idiom — often when parents try to get their child to share their toys with a sibling. But like so many other childhood lessons, this isn't something you should put aside as you get older.

As a leader, sharing your knowledge and experiences ultimately becomes one of the best ways to demonstrate that you want to help others. Keeping your knowledge to yourself doesn't help anyone. But as you open up and share with others, you will benefit yourself and others in the long run.

The only question remaining is what knowledge are you going to share with others today?

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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