When it comes to establishing oneself in an industry, everyone has their eyes set on becoming a thought leader. Thought leaders are seen as a legitimate source of information and expertise in their particular field, a go-to person for the most informed perspective about an issue related to their knowledge. However, there is the need to be more than just a thought leader in this day and age. One must be a thought provoker, starting and driving the conversation rather than just participating in it. Then will an expert indeed be able to have the influence they need to be successful.
To be a thought provoker, one needs to have more than just an intimate understanding of what they are talking about. Yes, one must also be a thought leader to be a thought provoker — you can’t start a conversation without knowing how to hold the discussion in the first place — but it is a different skill to stimulate the rest of the industry to be on the same page. A deep passion and familiarity with the topic should be a given for anyone trying to become a thought provoker. Still, one must also be able to probe deeper into the subject to be successful.
The primary skill that a thought provoker needs to have is the ability to ask insightful questions. Thought leaders tend to comment on events and developments already happening in the field, but a thought provoker needs to be ahead of those trends before they even occur. Ideally, a thought provoker should be the person who is leading the front in those changes, but at the bare minimum, they should be on top of the conversation as it brews. Thought provokers are the ones who are driving the decision-making and communication processes about an issue through their creative thought and problem-solving skills.
A good thought provoker can create engagement in areas where there wasn’t previously much public interest. Most thought leaders tend to be taking part in discussions that have already taken hold of the public eye. Thought provokers ask such important questions that the public starts to care about the issue. Especially in the healthcare industry, it’s essential to take this approach because these issues can become matters of life and death. A thought provoker has their finger on the zeitgeist, knowing what people care about and how to connect that with what is already known to be important.
More often than not, these things that need to be discussed are new problems and obstacles. Anyone can discuss a problem that everyone already knows about, and most can identify a new one. However, the thing that thought provokers can do that others can’t is find realistic solutions to these problems and implement them. Problems arise every day, but the way that someone truly becomes an authority in their industry is to be the person leading the charge in finding solutions. But it’s not just about being first — if you are first and your solution doesn’t work, it means nothing — you have to be both first and best.
And anyone can drop one-liners about leadership. Old adages are a dime a dozen, but guidance means nothing without proven results. If someone wants to be a thought provoker, they need to identify what works in their own approach and be able to communicate that with the rest of the world. Beyond finding the solutions themselves, thought provoker s must also be able to inspire others to find the answer. The best way to achieve success is not just to find success on your own but to lead the rest of the industry to perpetuate this success. Being a thought provoker is not just being a leader but inspiring future generations of leaders with your thought.
It’s important to become more than just an expert in your field if you really want to make an impact. You must become a thought provoker, challenging the status quo and finding solutions to problems before they arise. Anyone with a deep knowledge of the topic can comment on an issue as a thought leader, but it takes a special kind of leadership to be the person not just contributing to the conversation but driving it.
The author, Graig Robinson, is a successful entrepreneur and serves as the CEO of the Diagnostic Service Center and CEO of Avar Capitol Partners.