It would seem like innovation and thought leadership go hand-in-hand, if not completely molded together. To be a thought leader in a field as ludicrous as a business means having the ability to move and inspire people through innovative ideas and to execute them just as envisioned. But more than developing a product, thought leadership extends to solving customer problems and eventually becoming a trusted advisor in the field. That takes a lot of innovation.

Becoming a thought leader appears to be a daunting task, and we are not going to pretend otherwise. However, if you have a great product and a simplified, targeted community to talk to, and if you are willing to do the work, it doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Here are our thoughts on thought leadership, recalibrated for the 21st-century thinker:

They Just Get Me
It’s easy to get lost in the ebb and flow of modern-day technology and culture. Products come and go without proper introduction or warning of impending doom. Topics live and die just as fast as they are tweeted, and trends go trending for five minutes before they disappear. Nothing truly touches humans anymore.

To be a thought leader is to touch lives through a persistent idea — an idea that lives long and is universally accepted. To come up with a persistent idea, one must think like a human. Thought leaders don’t see people as numbers on a bar graph. They listen to the verbatims, learn about the communities, and level themselves in an understandable language. They get humans. They get human needs.

Get a Life
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about thought leadership is the need to be fully immersed in the field to understand the ins and outs of the business. After all, to inspire others you must be inspired yourself. While this is true, a certain level of disconnection would help make for grounded leadership. A lot of things are similar when stripped down to their essence.

There’s only so much you can learn from taking a deep dive. Thought leaders apply what they learn outside to their professions. Sometimes, the answers are simply not in the four corners of the office. One must go outside.

Get Talking
Thoughts are only thoughts until they are manifested. Once an idea is out there, it’s important to know what other people think too. From business partners or investors, to life partners and even your neighbor, rack their brains to find the best conclusion. Thought leadership is built on knowledge-sharing.

Thought leaders, as much as they thrive in singularity, are vicious collaborators. They talk about an idea and question it until it’s completely destroyed to its simplest, most sensical form. Get talking to get evolving.

Get in Touch
So many great ideas and innovative techniques are created daily. As innovators, the duty is not to simply keep up but to adapt and adopt. Innovators are the first to test a product, a thought, or an idea to see if it works or if it can be improved. They are pioneers, blazing new paths.

While it is easy to get lost in the ebb and flow of modern-day technology and culture, read the news as it happens, discuss with the world as people more. It’s imperative to be there, to be listening, and to be in control.