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Mind Readings: Beware Blanket Trust of Thought Leaders

Be careful when extending trust to thought leaders outside of their domain of expertise. Make sure they have earned that trust by being transparent about their sources and citing them when appropriate.

Mind Readings: Beware Blanket Trust of Thought Leaders

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In today’s episode, let’s talk a little bit about trust.

At this year’s MarketingProfs B2B forum, Ashley Faus from Atlassian was giving a talk about influencers and subject matter experts and thought leadership and how to know whether you’re a thought leader or not.

And one of the characteristics of leadership that she talked about was authority.

Authority in the sense of how much do people look to you as an authority? versus how much do people press you for your credibility, your credentials, and one of the things she said was, you are a thought leader, when people cite you, as a source.

You are not a thought leader, when people require you to cite your sources, which I thought was a very handy compact, a for ism, a good way to benchmark your authority when people cite you.

And they don’t require you to cite where you got your information.

Yeah, you’re, you’re in origination of of ideas and origination of thought you are a thought leader.

And I liked that definition a whole lot.

However, there is a risk, there’s a danger to this.

And that danger is the halo effect.

What I mean by that is just because somebody trusts you, and sees you as an authority in one area, does not necessarily mean that the the same level of trust should be extended to you, across multiple domains of expertise, unless you actually have that domain expertise.

And the same thing is true.

For anyone else we consider a thought leader, we should be looking at those thought leaders and saying, What is your domain of expertise.

And if if it’s true that that person is a thought leader, then when that person ventures out of their domain expertise, we should be cautious about extending them the same level of trust.

Now there are aspects to a person’s personality, trustworthiness, honesty, openness, transparency, those probably are going across domains.

So if a person is trustworthy and honest, and transparent in one domain, probably they’re going to be in other domains.

So from a, I guess you’d call it a soft skills perspective that would carry over, but the domain expertise itself might not.

Let me give you a very practical example, in January of 2020, I posted my first update about what the time was called NCOP 2019, which we later know, and now known as COVID-19.

And I started saying, Hey, I think this is a thing I cited the authorities that I was reading because to me, I’m a marketer, I’m a data guy.

I’m a scientist, but I’m not an epidemiologist.

I am not a virologist, I am not an MD, I have no medical experience to speak of.

And so from my own perspective, I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna cite my sources for everything a because misinformation and disinformation is so bad on the internet.

And this was keep in mind the beginning of the pandemic.

And be because I held myself accountable to say, I’m not going to to, you know, randomly and wildly speculate about things that are not my area of expertise.

So I started publishing these updates and eventually turn them into a newsletter.

And what was interesting was, a lot of people started citing me.

And that makes me real nervous because I am not the authority.

Like I said, I’m not a virologist, I did not go to medical school.

In fact, I washed out of pre med in college, I didn’t make it through organic chemistry to I’m not qualified as a medical practitioner to be speaking about things without somebody saying, Hey, what are your sources on that? I can talk about it.

But I should be and still do to this day, cite my sources, I still publish my pandemic newsletter, the newsletter that I wish would go away because I wish the pandemic would go away, but it hasn’t.

So here we are.

And every single newsletter, I still cite my sources because I know myself, but I am not an authority.

Even if other people think I am, I know that I do not have the academic credentials.

I do not have the lived experience, to be able to offer any kind of legitimate medical advice to anybody.

I can tell you what I’m doing.

And I can give you suggestions based on other people I’ve read, but I’m going to cite those as much as possible.

And so this idea of trust is one that, again, we have to be careful with someone who is good at something in one domain outside of their domain, we should probably still be thinking about asking them for citations.

Right? If you if you’re looking at my martial arts teacher, I would not hesitate to to cite him.

Blanket citation.

For his expertise.

I don’t even have to ask him where he gets his information and stuff.

I know, you know, he’s I know his teacher and his teacher.

He’s an authority on the martial arts and our martial art and specific for something like fitness advice, little bit less.

So for something like medical advice, I shouldn’t be asking that person for citations.

Like, what legitimate paper? Did you read that in? What peer reviewed paper? Did you read that piece of advice and because there’s a lot of stuff that requires expertise that a person may not have.

So the takeaway here is, give thought to who you consider to be a thought leader.

in whatever field or industry you’re in, give thought to how much trust you extend to that person, how much you see them and his authority, how much you cite them.

And then think about how much trust if any, you extend to that person outside of their domain of expertise, and whether that trust is earned.

Again, that person may have multiple domains of expertise, in which case is totally safe to trust them in in their areas where they are experts.

Otherwise, every now and again, it might not hurt to ask, where did you get that information from? Is there something that I can take a look at is just source material.

I’m in the midst of as I record this, dealing with some hate speech on Twitter.

And, again, I’m citing myself, I’m not going to make a claim to say here’s the raw data that I pulled because even though even in this area, even though data is my my area of expertise, hate speech and stuff is not.

So I’m still going to cite my sources.

And if you are creating content with the intent of being a thought leader, make sure that you hold yourself accountable, hold yourself accountable, know where you are an expert, know where you are not.

And take the initiative proactively to cite your sources.

For any situation where you think you might not have earned enough trust or where you want to build trust over time, by showing that yeah, you are dealing with accredited, validated, reviewed sources.

That’s today’s thoughts.

Thanks for tuning in.

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