Scared to Lead: How to become a thought leader when you’re worried about sharing your ideas

Many thought leaders at the early stages of their journey are scared to start sharing their thinking. You might be a big-thinking, purpose-driven expert who knows their stuff and wants to help more people by sharing what you know, but it can be intimidating to bring forward new solutions, or a less-than-mainstream perspective to a big issue.

However, isn’t that exactly why it’s so important to get those ideas out there? You might worry that other people won’t agree with you, but those are the conversations that start to actually move us forward.

So how can you get past those blocks and start building the future that you want to see?

1. Remember who you want to impact

I was recently in a coaching call for the Better Book Project when Mel, one of our participants, said she was struggling to prioritise writing her book. When we explored why that was the case, one of our other participants piped up with “I had a coaching client yesterday that I was like, this woman needs Mel’s book, and she needs it right now.”

It was a brilliant reminder for Mel on why she was writing the book – because she knew it could help people. And she immediately booked time in her calendar to get writing.

So before you let your inner critic take over and tell you not to share your thinking, recognise who you could help if you DID share them. What would they miss out on if you didn’t share your ideas?

2. Embrace your own unique way of thinking

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr Seuss.

No-one else in the world thinks quite like you. No-one has had the exact experiences, the exact emotions, the exact learning that you’ve had. No-one has built all of the neural pathways that are within your brain. 

So instead of worrying that your way of thinking is weird or different, recognise that it’s exactly that which makes you great. It’s your superpower – so start using it!

3. Think like a scientist

You will never know what impact you could have unless you actually get out there and share your thinking. So treat it like an experiment – all you’re doing is seeing what happens when you consistently share your ideas. Then take the feedback and make those ideas better. We put together another blog about how to challenge your ideas and think like a scientist a few weeks ago – check that out here.

4. Encourage others to do the same

We know that ideas get better through collaboration. We see it all the time with our team, our clients, and our wider networks. Collaboration is one of the best tools you have for driving creativity, innovation, and improvement – so instead of just building thought leadership yourself, think about bringing others along for the journey.

One of our clients, Jayne Chater, is amazing at this – she’s such a natural collaborator. Together with Sue Watson, she’s launched Leaderful to work towards their vision of more women leading us towards a better Aotearoa. In the work she does with working mums, she often collaborates with other organisations and experts to spread the message more widely and drive greater change. Because she approaches thought leadership in this way, she has so many more opportunities to improve her ideas and leverage what she’s doing to have a greater impact.

So think about how you could encourage more people to lead with their thinking. Whether that’s motivating your whole team to put their own ideas out there, working collectively on a framework or model, or collaborating with other thought leaders, recognise that we are all better off when we have more diverse, smart, purpose-driven thought leaders trying to make the world a better place.

Keen to find out how you’re doing at thought leadership and see where to focus your energies? Access Your Thought Leadership Audit here.