What makes someone a thought leader

The short answer is: The latter can also be seen as so-called "influencers", i.e. those who, for example, have a lot of Twitter followers or a high Klout Score because they are experts in a certain subject. But more about that now.

What is a thought leader?

Individuals as well as companies and organizations can be thought leaders. Thought leaders are those who lead the discussion on a specific topic. Others seek thought leaders because they have the necessary expert knowledge in a certain area and are therefore considered to be particularly credible. But expertise and knowledge alone are not enough. A true thought leader is someone who can inspire others to follow their example. Because he does not keep his "secret of success" to himself, but passes it on to others.

What do thought leaders have that others don't?

Anyone can become a thought leader, regardless of their personal background. However, it can often take years to become a thought leader, as you first have to gather enough knowledge on a certain topic.

Here are four traits that a thought leader should have:


People will turn to you for their opinion, and they'll want to be able to trust that opinion. If you lack the necessary self-confidence to present yourself or your product / service, then it seems as if you don't even know what you are actually talking about. These appearances can lead to distrust and weaken your position as a thought leader. But note: there is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance!

Expert knowledge

As already mentioned, a thought leader needs extensive knowledge on a particular subject. Pick an aspect of a particular topic that no one has considered important enough to look at. You stand out from the competition with specialist knowledge. It is not enough to know only the most important things, you really have to be able to answer every question on the subject. And if you can't, answer with an honest “I don't know”. If you confidently admit that you don't know something (yet), it will underline your credibility much more than half-truths or an unimaginative answer.


What is a leader without a supporter? Just someone who goes for a walk. This joke may be a bit old-fashioned, but it's still true, especially in the internet age. You need to build strong relationships with people in order to gain their loyalty and trust. Establishing and cultivating relationships will help you and your product get more attention. Good relationships with other thought leaders add to your own worth as a thought leader. So get out there, get involved, join discussions, and make meaningful relationships.


To be a thought leader, you need to know exactly what you want and how to get there. Having a clear idea of ​​what you want to achieve will help you work more efficiently towards your goal. Don't forget to share your vision with others and show enthusiasm for it.

How can you implement thought leadership in your project management process?

In the business world, thought leadership is often used to improve a product or service, or to increase the demand for it. But it is also used to build a loyal “following” of committed customers and stakeholders. How can you anchor a thought leadership idea in your project team?

Build Confidence

Invest in building trust between team members, but also with customers and the most important project participants. Trust is the key to any long-term relationship. After all, you want your team to stay with the company and customers to come back.

Believe in your goals

If you don't believe in your goals yourself, no one else will believe in them. If you and your project team can identify with the project goal, then it will motivate everyone to work even harder to complete the project successfully

Encourage others to learn

Despite standardization and automation, every project is and remains unique and you cannot ask that your employees know everything in advance. As a kind of “pre-production phase” before the actual project start, the team should conduct research on the topic in order to gain knowledge that can help them with the entire project implementation. This is an effective way for the team to dig into the subject in depth.

Promote innovation and creativity

Encourage your team to think outside the box and think outside the box by giving all team members the freedom they need to experiment. Sometimes well-tried processes can become inefficient for various reasons, so your team now has to find new and creative ways to increase efficiency again. Do not let monotony ruin the motivation of your team, but give your employees tasks that challenge them and thus promote their personal and professional development.