Leadership Summit Series: The Substance of Expertise

last updated on Monday, September 18, 2017 in General

Recognized by the prestigious Speakers Roundtable as one of the top 20 speakers in the world, best-selling author Mark Sanborn presented at our 2nd annual Leadership Summit. Mark's insight helped pave the way for new thoughts on leadership, team building and customer service.

Below, Mark shares his thoughts on substance and leading authentically:

Much has been said about substance, but what is the substance of expertise? And why is that important? Substance is the difference between façade and fact, between appearance and reality. It is about going beyond perception and providing proof. The substance of expertise is in acquiring, using and teaching ideas with impact, and continuing to think, research and create, and deepen the reservoir of useful knowledge.

Here are some of my reflections on the substance of expertise along with a couple of ideas from colleagues:

  1. Thought leadership bestowed by the marketplace is more powerful and credible than thought leadership claimed by the thinker. Ross Shafer, CSP, CPAE, says, “You aren't an expert until your audience repeatedly hires you as such. You aren't a thought leader until you spur prominent leaders to action. You aren't an innovator until you've walked in the shoes of conventional thinking… and originated a future path.”
  2. What are you rethinking? If you've not re-examined earlier opinions and conclusions, you are in danger. Rigidity of thinking is the enemy of substance and expertise.
  3. Are you a commenter or an innovator? It is one thing to gather ideas and report on them but quite another to originate thoughts and communicate them creatively.
  4. If you read, listen and study only common sources, your output of ideas will be common.
  5. It isn't what you've done, but what you've learned- and the insights you can share- that give your expertise substance.


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