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Sync: e-bulletin July 2011


Leading into the summer

Just as the longest journey begins with a single step, so can the most far reaching changes begin with a single thought.

a painting of a field of tress, in the centre foreground is one tree that is actually a figure with their arms outstretched and ideas, like leaves, populating their branches.

It's almost the end of July - and this is a quick reminder that the deadline for applications to Sync Intensives is 5 pm on the 29th July (hence we are sending this out a little early to act as a final push if you are thinking about applying).

All the information about the programme and how to apply is on the website in the intensives section - just follow the link below if you fancy some time for discussion and reflection on all things leadership in the Autumn!

The bulletin this month is concentrating on a type of leadership we’ve not focused on before – thought leadership. No it's not telepathy, mild melding or hypnosis - read on to find out more...

To find out more about Sync Intensives...

So what is thought leadership?

Sow a thought, reap an act; Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny. (Charles Reade)

a number of goldfish, all following one other fish, which is coloured green.

Thought leadership simply changes how and what people think.

Thought leadership isn’t about managing people or delivering a project, so it’s not about position or job title or how much or how little you actually do. It's about ideas rather than action. Whenever you put forward a new idea, a point of view, or your opinion on the way things are in the field in which you work, you can show thought leadership. It's not all big and new. A thought leader can focus on smaller scale changes - changes to a plan or project and not always a big, shiny new idea, for example.

Thought leaders persuade people; they influence what others think. They can do this using many tools - logic, evidence or an actual demonstration of a idea – anything which might win support.

To be a thought leader, you need to have something new to say, something to put forward.

Good presentation skills help, and good influencing skills. You need to get people to trust you – so a good track record, showing honest and reflective behaviour, can be helpful. Ultimately though, whether people go with what you say depends on the strength of what it is you are saying – your content is key.

So who can be a thought leader?

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.(Albert Einstein)

A modern painting of Einstein with broad brush strokes and little detail.

So thought leadership is about having great ideas and being able to reach people with them. Einstein (with quite dreadful stereotyping!) manages to get the concept of relativity across there in just 33 words and two sentences?

I’m interested in the concepts behind thought leadership, so have been doing some reading around the subject, and the more I read, the more excited I become about its potential for disabled leaders and also for artists. Thought leadership is extremely flexible – you don’t need to be great at everything, or be able to work ridiculous hours. You don’t have to operate in the same way as thousands of others; you don’t have to fit in.

One of the articles I read had this to say: Thought leaders could be… loners or eccentrics. All that counts is the credibility of their new idea. This is why we can buy innovations offered by odd creative types who we would not entrust to manage any part of an organisation. If you can demonstrate the value of your idea and explain it with conviction, you might not need inspirational influencing skills. Think of the stereotypical artist who has no time to socialise or even sleep and can be quite hard to get along with, but if his or her art is highly original, leadership by example will be shown despite the lack of interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.

Awful description of an artist there – but you start to get the idea. To be a thought leader, you need to have independent thought.

What do you need?

an image of a red heart on an old wooden door. The heart is sewn and patched with sticky plasters.

So what traits might serve you well if you want to pursue thought leadership.

You certainly need to be resilient – you need to be able to risk rejection as you put forwards an alternative viewpoint. You need to be ok with the idea that not everyone will agree with you, and not feel the need to change your mind back simply to fit in.

You need to be strong minded. You need to have the self belief to hold on to your views in the face of potentially strong criticism.

Thought leadership ends when people have their minds changed. When you are in thought leadership mode, you aren’t involved in making the change happen. Thought leaders aren’t involved in the day to day management of people and resources.

Think about whose ideas you follow – are there writers, public figures, people who inspire you to think afresh? Ideally thought leaders should provide insight and clarity; their ideas, and the way they put them across should be compelling. Do you inspire people to change their minds?

Keep in Sync

Sync intensive 2010 people working

So enjoy the summer, whatever you are up to, and don't forget to apply to Sync Intensives if that's what feels right to you.

We'll be in touch in August to let you know who is on the programme for the Autumn and bring you up to speed on all things Sync!

Keep in touch,

All the best

Jo Verrent and Sarah Pickthall


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