24 Carat BOLD by Vistage UK Speaker Mindy Gibbins-Klein presents four key attributes that are required of REAL thought leaders. REAL is an acronym for Reach, Engagement, Authority, and Longevity. These leadership qualities can be likened, metaphorically, to a chair; with four legs that are stable because they all work together to maintain a balanced weight. The chair would not function the same way without its four legs, and the REAL acronym works the same. There are four legs—or four attributes—to be a successful thought leader.
Reach: Both in a geographic and cross-cultural sense “reach” ensures that a business is exposed to as many different places as possible. Material has to be relevant when extending reach and a constant visibility strategy must be maintained at all times.
Engagement: Engagement involves a successful ongoing interaction between two parties, whether that is customer, client, audience or reader. There are a few vital stages which must be completed before engagement can be maintained successfully including:
- Identifying target audience
- Correcting posture, speech and communication
- Defining roles of the superior and inferior of conversation to set tones for speech.
Authority: One of the qualities that create authority is having opinions. People often become unsure of how to express opinions for fear of others’ reactions. It is boldness that makes thought leaders stand out and become authoritative.
Longevity: Longevity is defined as how long you stay in people’s minds. How long they will remember you after they have finished the book or after you have walked out the room. How long will they talk about you? Longevity gets you recognized and remembered the next time your name is mentioned. Longevity can be broken down into three different spectrums:
What makes you stick in someone’s mind is if what you say has enough relevance to make them listen. What’s more, if you maintain a constant contact with your audience, this means they will always be reminded of you. Therefore they must have heard from you recently. In addition to this, there must always be a lasting reminder, or Reference, to you after you have parted company.
Being a REAL thought leader means that you have to rely on a lot of your own common sense and instincts instead of doing too much research. The beauty of thought leadership is that it is unique to the leader: You decide what you want to say and you create the market.