How many times have you seen this situation? You’re at a networking event and a well suited young man walks up to, holding out his hand, “Hi, my name is Joe Publicwannabe. Here’s my card.”

His smile is confident and he shakes your hand firmly. You glance down at his business card and see his name, then underneath the words, Thought Leader.

One of the biggest mistakes many people make is assigning the label of thought leader to themselves.

I understand we are supposed to act for the title we want, but this is taking that a bit too far. Real thought leaders don’t call themselves that. Their peers call them that.

The most telling sign that you are a thought leader wannabe is to put the label beside your own name.

Posers need to call themselves something. Real leaders don’t need that sort of self-glorification.

Thought leaders span all areas of business, politics and personal life.

So how can you tell if you’re a thought leader if you don’t call yourself one?

Here are a few signs:

1. People Actually Call You One

Yes, it’s amazing what people are willing to call you, if you act in that capacity. To be called a thought leader, you must act as a thought leader.  How do thought leaders act? Well, firstly, they don’t toot their own horn.

True leaders are too busy forging a trail of difference to be standing around patting themselves on the back.

They are expressing their ideas and living their passion with strength, grace, and expressiveness. Yes, they have their own domain and web presence, but it isn’t just all about them.

They are doers and then they share their thoughts on their passion. They walk their walk and are willing to talk about the process to get there.

There is no need for them to call themselves anything but what they are, leaders.

2. You’re Dedicated to Your Passion Even If It’s Not Popular

Most thought leaders aren’t concerned with how others will perceive them. They stand in their convictions and passions with persistence and strength.

The build influence by being part of solutions that are unique and fresh. They are perceived as authorities in their field and have usually done the time to get there.

Related:  #5 Barrier to Leadership – Not Believing

They’ve slogged in the trenches and worked hard to develop their style and experience.

Dedication comes from perseverance and believing even when the odds are against you and everyone calls you crazy or dismisses you.

You will continue to grow and develop your ideas until your peers can take notice.

3. You’re Articulate and Well Informed

Whether or not you agree with a thought leader isn’t what makes one. They are well informed and articulate with their ideas.

They don’t necessarily make quick statements or communication. They’re prepared with their own research, experience and have formed coherent opinions on what they’re passionate about.

They’ve done their homework and are willing to discuss adverse issues with calm articulate strength. If you’re in this group, you’ll have developed these skills.

4. You’ve Created Trust

Thought leaders have built their reputation on trust. Whatever they’re opinions you can trust them to know where they came from and what they think.

It’s rare that a thought leader will change their platform. You can trust them to continue their passion and experience.

They develop other leaders and challenge thoughts. If you’re a true thought leader, you’ve created trust that you have knowledge and experience well beyond what others have.

These are just a few of the signs that you’re a thought leader. If you have all of these, you can be guaranteed you won’t have to call yourself one.

People will automatically be calling you that. It’s poor form and definitely not good thought leadership to call yourself a thought leader.

How Do You Know You’re a Thought Leader?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Would you like to contribute a post?

Sarah Saker
Sarah Saker is a business coach and freelance writer that specializes in helping SMBs setup processes for customer support and predictable growth. When not writing or coaching, Sarah can be found on her (small but growing!) family farm. Connect with Sarah on about.me/ssaker for coaching or writing help.