How to Be a Thought Leader: 5 Tips

young business professional in a meeting

Dr. Jaime Kulaga is a full-time faculty member at Ashford University, as well as life coach, author of The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment, and host of The Dr. Jaime Show. Sharing insights on thought leadership, Dr. Jaime discusses five common traits of thought leaders she has interviewed, worked with, and coached. 


Many experts have put in hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hours to become educated and experienced in a certain field. Often, this dedication and passion in a specific area comes with a desire to be a thought leader. A thought leader is someone whose views and inputs influence other people. Thought leaders can become a go-to and trusted resource for large audiences. The key thing to remember about thought leadership is that it is not an overnight achievement, but rather the outcome of years of hard work, practice in a field, and a continued education of the topic. To be a thought leader there are, in my opinion, five key components.

5 Key Components to Become a Thought Leader

1. Have an Open Mind

Thought leaders are open to learning new things, seeing ideas and concepts from different perspectives, and engaging in research that extends beyond a quick Google search. Thought leaders educate people on topics, ideas, and theories. These concepts can be found in research, shared among cultures, or come from multiple experiences and perceptions of others. Thought leaders often talk about more than solely just their own ideas though. They go beyond their personal and basic scope of understanding to be open-minded about new experiences and thoughts.

2. Have Integrity

Integrity falls along the lines of three things: leaders doing what they say they will do, acting right even when no one is looking, and practicing what they preach. The more integrity a person has as a thought leader, the more respect they earn. As respect increases, people begin to want to follow these leaders and read more of their work. They begin to trust these leaders as a resource.

3. Be Consistent

Thought leaders are consistent in sharing their views. They share their content frequently and according to a schedule that they can maintain. This consistency reinforces the established trust and grows their audience.

4. Build a Strong Following

Thought leaders take time to cultivate the people who engage with them. Word of mouth, speaking engagements or other public appearances, publishing their work, and maintaining a social media presence are all ways to work on building a strong following. People choose to follow thought leaders, and this attention raises their overall following tremendously.

5. Have Confidence

In order to take some of the risks and adhere to the commitment it takes to be a thought leader, thought leaders have confidence. This confidence keeps them growing, developing, thinking outside of the box and ultimately, providing content to people. The thought leader’s confidence often empowers and inspires others, which makes them more influential and thus keeps them a thought leader.  

Whether you’re looking to become a thought leader or simply emulate thought leaders’ qualities, I encourage you to establish your personal brand and focus your actions, content, and goals around that brand. Because much of thought leadership is based on a foundation of education, it’s also important to hone the area in which you want to excel.



Written by Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Life Coach, Author, and Full-Time Faculty at Ashford University

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