You may find yourself nodding or shaking your head today at someone else’s comments. In every business, on every talk show, at every meeting we want to know what the Opinion Leader thinks. In the meeting our brains are consciously or unconsciously waiting to hear what the person with the most status in the room thinks. What does she think? What will he do?
Yes, we have our own opinions, and we follow our own thoughts and make our own decisions but we still want to know the Opinion of certain people…the Thought Leader, the Opinion Maker.
One of two things will happen. We will either agree or disagree.
If we agree, we will feel our own opinion is confirmed, we are on the right track. And this confirmation of our suspicion, as our opinion is confirmed it increases the likelihood that that person will be considered an influencer in our minds.
If we disagree, we may wrestle with their view, making ours stronger or considering theirs to update our own. In either event, our brains value status and they will continue to be someone we consider in our decisions.
There is a third condition, and that is, you hadn’t even considered the topic, the idea, the possibility
This person is providing guidance along a different line of thought and a new opinion is forming in you.
If you are to create advantages, you must be able to persuade people to your opinion, to lead their thinking, at least to engage their mental set.
Thought leadership creates inspired action. Forced leadership produces shut up and do what the boss tells you to do.
And knowing what we know about brains, it must be emotional. Thought Leaders are emotionally engaging, like a comedian, they must move your from where you are to where they want your brain to be. Obviously some comedians are better than others, they are more adept at their craft. Jerry Seinfeld says it takes him 3 months to prepare a 30 minute skit and 6 months for a 5 minute comedic set. Ready for his brilliant insights? He gets you ready.
There is a part of the brain, the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, that identifies conflicts, and context conflicts. This is the basis of risk and reward, and as such, amplifies or mitigates opinions. Comedians trigger the ACC. They know how to do it so we laugh at ourselves, but the really great ones are opinion makers: Think George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby…
If you are to lead opinions you must be prepared for triggering the anterior cingulate cortex, the ACC. In fact, thought leadership is amplified by controversy or contradiction to the prevailing view. You don’t have to be a comedian, but shifting perspectives is required.
Shaping ideas, and shaping the ideas of others triggers the ACC so rather than retreat from conflict the next time you feel yourself nodding your head or shaking your head notice how your brain is responding, not just to the content, but to the process of Opinion Making. It can trigger the brains insights, the leading edge of powerful new advantages you or your colleagues have not considered.
Advantage-Makers brains, are opinion making brains, they get people to listen.