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‹ View all articles 28th August 2014

Become an authentic thought leader

How to Inspire

For me and the work we do with our Ginger clients, public speaking is all about inspiring positive change in the world. It’s a way of being a thought leader, change maker or entrepreneur. Thought leaders are creative, they’re driven, they have brilliant ideas, but they can’t always communicate about their business in a way that’s clear, let alone impressive.

So what does it mean to be a thought leader and how can we learn to become authentic thought leaders when we stand up and speak? There are some important lessons to learn if you aspire to inspire...

The term thought leader is the highest of compliments, and arguably the hardest descriptor to achieve. It’s not enough to just excel at what you do; a thought leader is to be thought of as the best compliment you can achieve - someone on the cutting edge of their industry or making such a splash that they rise above the rest. Becoming a "mini-celebrity" in your field is enough to make anyone's mouth water. It's about making your 'brand' or idea become viral (both online and off), creating a buzz for your message. But how can you become an AUTHENTIC thought leader... without coming across as disingenuous?

In this article in the Leadership Quarterly Journal, Shamir & Eilam talk about four elements of authentic leadership. Let’s have a look at each and what it means for speakers:

1) Authentic leaders lead from a conviction.

They engage in leadership not only to live up to their full potential, but to make a positive impact on their world.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Speakers who connect with a bigger, more widely benefiting picture are the ones who have the greatest impact on their audiences. My belief is that to be a truly great speaker, we start with the motivation to find the most important cause we could stand up for – and use that as the fuel to overcome any doubt or difficulty we may have on the way.

2) Authentic leaders integrate leadership into their very being. 

The authentic thought leader is not just playing the role of a leader they are a leader.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Speakers can sometimes struggle to appreciate their own capacity to influence. That’s because we see our own nerves and self doubts from the inside (which is messy) – and we see everyone else’s confidence and great performance from the outside (which of course looks oh, so impressive). Whilst we separate ourselves from ‘those who can’, we won’t allow ourselves to shine as authentic, inspiring speakers.

To be an authentic leader in speaking, absorb the function of leadership into your speaking. Accept it – if you’re speaking, you’re trying to lead your audience somewhere better than they already are. That doesn’t mean you’re in it to boost your ego, that doesn’t mean you’re self promoting and that doesn’t mean you’re or being pushy. In fact if you start with your conviction in mind, quite the opposite effect will happen. If you are a truly authentic leader your impact will be ‘through you’ rather than ‘about you’.

3) Authentic thought leaders are originals, not copies. 

They hold their values  & views to be true not because they are socially or politically acceptable, but because they have gone through a process of self-reflection and have
proven their convictions to themselves.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Inspiring Speakers are also not carbon copies of what’s worked for another speaker. In developing yourself as a speaker, ask yourself what you truly believe in and why. If what you believe in doesn’t fit in with what others believe, it doesn’t matter. Find your strength of conviction that would stand up to even the toughest of criticism, or the strongest amount of ridicule.

When you’ve found that solid place of self-belief, you will become a speaker who has the power to move other people to change their minds. By going through this process you will also become a speaker who has a unique and compelling way of relating to your material; even if hundreds of other people speak on the same topic as you.

4) The actions of authentic leaders are based on their values and convictions. 

What they say and do is the same. As such they may are characterized as having high levels of integrity and transparency.

What that means for inspiring speakers:

Once you’ve discovered what you really believe and what you really care enough to speak about, the challenge is to become your message. An inspiring speaker doesn’t say a few strong words against about animal cruelty and then step of stage and kick a cat. No, the authentic speaker’s words and actions are the same thing. Like Gandhi, our challenge is to integrate everything we do, say, think and learn and align it with our message.

From there comes deep the personal satisfaction associated with the feeling that you’re doing the right thing. And, critically, your ability to influence and inspire an audience is vastly improved.

Authentic leadership is an essential mindset for any inspiring speaker. It’s a challenge to find your true convictions, but once you have dug deep, authentic leadership and authentic communication bring big rewards.

 

Want more on how to become a thought leader? 

Normally public speaking training focuses on a set of ‘rules’ – that if you put your hands here, stand like that and say this, you’ll look as confident as a professional speaker. We find that this approach can make you more nervous rather than more natural, as you focus (sometimes obsessively) on your surface level behaviours, rather than accessing the qualities that you already possess that inspire others.

The Ginger approach is to allow you to find and explore your unique public speaking power, in terms of your personal expression and the message that has the most meaning for you.

 

If you're eager to become a more inspiring, confident speaker, Ginger has a multitude of courses just right for you! From freebies to e-courses, books to workshops, jump in to Ginger. Click here for a full list of Ginger courses and resources.

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