How to Become a Thought Leader

How to Become a Thought Leader


When Neil Giuliano ran for Mayor of Tempe in 1993, he didn’t think he would actually win. But he did win, and became the youngest person ever to hold the office. On June 22, 2016, Mr. Giuliano, who now serves as President and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, shared his personal journey of becoming a thought leader in our sector, and tips and advice for attendees to take on their own journeys.

“If you remember one thing, remember this: Work harder on yourself than you do on your job,” Mr. Giuliano advised.

Self-reflection and analysis provide understanding of the ‘why’ behind your strengths and weaknesses, and help to identify a plan for dealing with personal liabilities. “If you don’t do this early,” Mr. Giuliano warned, “your strengths will stagnate and you won’t grow.” The bottom line? It’s all about leading yourself, which is paramount to influencing others.  

In addition to knowing their own strengths and weaknesses, a leader knows that nothing of significance gets accomplished alone. As Mr. Giuliano put it: The leader is the person who influences people to accomplish a purpose. One tactic for recruiting people to a cause is to include people in the creation of the purpose, or at least making them feel and think they are. Remember: People support what they help create.

While you’re on your own journey toward thought leadership, keep these strategies in mind:

Giuliano’s Strategies for Broadening Your Power and Leadership Base

  1. Knowledge

    • Become known as a source of knowledge wherever you want to have influence.
  2. Access to Information

    • You can’t do anything without OPT (Other People’s Time), OPS (Other People’s Skills) or OPM (Other People’s Money).
  3. Relationships with Key Others

    • Identify them in your own life; figure out where they all intersect and how they can help you. Never forget who’s around influential people, either, and make relationships with them.
  4. Personal Development

    • Have a written plan for yourself: where you’re at, what you want to learn, where you want to be… Think of it like building a house – you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint.
  5. Control of Resources

    • Think of how key resources (time, skills, money) are controlled and who controls them. How are decisions really made?

“Success leaves clues,” said Mr. Giuliano – so pay attention! Use your own mistakes and others’ as learning opportunities, too. Be open to failing if you want to succeed and be willing to let someone else present opportunities to you. 

“We all, at every stage of our life, should desire to become more than we are today.”