5 Ways to Show Yourself as a Thoughtful Leader in Your Industry

The beauty of the business landscape is you get to choose the mark you make on it. No one can tell you where to be, what to do, or how to do it. You are in control of your own destiny, which is the general appeal for most. As a result of this, there are an endless number of opportunities available to anyone willing to saddle up to the challenge. Perhaps your end goal is to be recognized as a titan of industry. Like Rockefeller or someone else of great note, the recognition and profits that come with this are greater than one can put into words. However, assuming everyone wants to have a location in New York City named after them would be a great oversight.

Profits do not have a direct correlation with a positive public perception. Just because you make a lot of money on behalf of your company does not inherently mean your customers or associates will recognize you as astute or thoughtful. Seeing as these are qualities of a great leader worth following, finding a way to accomplish this in your own way is advisable. Bill Taylor, a co-founder of Fast Company, backed this up, “The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign — even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo. In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag.”

Of course, there are many ways to go about this. To give you a little clarity, below you will find five ways to show yourself as a thoughtful leader in your industry. 

1. Admit you do not know everything

People have this natural ability to see right through most facades thrown in front of them. Especially if they have longer periods of exposure to it – like a forty-hour work week around their boss. If you strut around the office, acting like the world is in your hands while the company fumbles its way through the quarter, nobody within a stone’s throw will consider you to be thoughtful.

As a leader, this can be a tough pill to swallow. After all, on some level, you are expected to be the person with answers. But, choosing a different mental approach to this matter might bring your employees closer together. It is not that you do not know everything; you are still learning and growing. As is your company. Do you see how this inspiring point of view changes things?

“A lack of information should not cause panic for you or your employees,” said Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads. “Instead, it should be a chance for you to say, ‘Ok, this is new. How can my company best understand and benefit from this?’

2. The numbers are important, but not more so than people

As the person in charge, you know as well as anyone without the necessary financial backing and other operational statistics in order, your company will begin to crumble faster than you can say bankruptcy. But, without the necessary people in place, the same outcome is certain. Therefore, it stands to reason that just as much, if not more, care and concern should be shown toward these people. 

“Stopping by an employee’s desk in the morning and asking them how they are doing goes a long way,” said Chris Thompson, CEO of Sober Sidekick App. “It may not be the most comfortable thing at first, but with time, you’ll see what I mean.”

To continue off this, let’s walk out what could possibly happen if you make this effort part of your routine.  For one, at some point, these interactions will become about more than the traditional small talk you probably have memorized by now. Be it a personal fact or story, something will emerge out of regular attempts to engage with your employees. From there, it is all about how you respond. 

“Thoughtful people are those who enjoy and interact with a variety of people on a daily basis,” said Mary Kay Bitton, Head of Product Innovation at FLO Vitamins. “The same is true in the workplace. Thoughtfulness and widespread interaction go hand in hand.”

3. Take time for personal reflection

When leading in any capacity, your focus is usually on the group you are responsible for. This is entirely logical – worrying only about yourself when there is a lineup of individuals relying on your guidance is a recipe for disaster. However, forgetting about yourself entirely is no way to achieve effective leadership. To counter this, you must be intentional about looking inward. The question of what are your recent mistakes and how you can learn from them is an excellent place to start.

“Leaders who don’t learn from their past are doomed to repeat it,” said Asker A Ahmed, Director of iProcess Global Research. “That cliche is as old as they come, but there’s really no better way to phrase it. The trick is acting on your personal revelations.”

All that being said, a cookie-cutter question such as the one prior to the above quote will never fully flush out all there is to understand about yourself. You must push your inner self to its limits time and time again. If that idea sounds daunting, it should. Life would be incredibly boring if you had all the answers and skills necessary to achieve your dreams! Where would the reward be? 

“It takes time to make journaling a daily habit, but after time and dedication to the practice there is no way to imagine life without it,” said Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO and nurse practitioner of Skin Pharm. “From personal processing to business reflections, it’s been great for every area of life. 

4. Become a student of the experts

There is likely a laundry list of reasons you currently hold the leadership position that you do. To put it bluntly – your resume is impressive. But that is not to say you have ascended to the best, most accomplished leader you can possibly be. Assuming this about yourself will only serve to hold you back in the long run. If you take a second to realize this, your industry can become your oyster. That is, if you adhere to those that have gone before you. 

“Every industry has a titan or two that we can learn more than a thing or two from,” said Miles Beckett, CEO and Co-founder of Flossy Dental. “The good news in this is that many of them have books of podcasts.”

But who is to say you should only seek wisdom from media sources? It will behoove you that much more to find ways to interact with these experts in a more personal manner. Now that the world is opening up again, speaking conferences are popping up like wildflowers. There is undoubtedly one specifically geared towards your industry and stocked with a variety of experts. Of course, if you take the initiative, even more is possible.

“Having a mentor changes a lot of things,” said Bryan Jones, CEO of Truckbase. “But the change that is most apparent is an ability to connect with my employees.”

5. Crystal-clear communication of your plan

Admit it. From day one of assuming your leadership responsibilities, you knew the direction you planned on taking your proverbial ship. On top of this, the longer you have stayed in this position, the clearer your desired outcomes have become. There are no two ways about this behavior – it is the sign of a quality leader. But, there is a distinct difference between this leader and an excellent one. 

“When employees feel as if they are to do nothing more than walk silently behind their leader through a rough patch, it is hard for them to stay engaged,” said Max Schwartzapfel, CMO of Fighting For You. “At the very least, they want to know what’s up.”

When you consider the endless number of business opportunities, niche skills, customer demand, and global ramifications, it is ridiculous to expect anyone to have a total understanding of how to navigate the business world. Especially if they are only a small piece of the puzzle as an employee who plays a supporting role. But, if you, their leader, can find a way to make them comfortable within all this, they might just look to you as thoughtful.

“Every employee is hired for a reason uniquely their own. For one reason or another, they fit into the company’s plans moving forward,” said Nabiha Akhtar, CEO and Founder of Lil Deenies. “If they aren’t aware of this, they’ll fail to acclimate fully.”

Taking these steps, and more, towards becoming a thoughtful leadership in your industry is something you will appreciate the longer you do it. Playwright and director Aaron Sorkin summarized why this is so, “Don’t ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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