Building influence and becoming a thought leader in the ADR field is the dream of many ADR professionals. Traditionally, publishing in academic journals, teaching, and influencing public policies through the law and academia was seen as a way for ADR professionals to grow in status and affect change, both inside and outside the field.

My, how times have changed.

With the explosion of ADR academic programs across the country, the Bureau of Labor statistics points out that:

As of 2008, 9,900 mediation professionals were working nationwide. With a predicted 1,400 additional jobs by 2018, the BLS expects 11,300 conflict resolution professionals at that time.

This illuminates the fact that a number of new ADR graduates, may have trouble developing the level of social, political and legal influence necessary, to affect positive, peace building change over the long term. In essence, becoming a thought leader may become more difficult in the future. The definition of being a thought leader, as defined by Denise Brosseau in her book Ready to be a Thought Leader?, is:

Thought leaders are people who can move and inspire others with their innovative ideas, turn those ideas into reality, and then create a dedicated group of friends, fans, and followers to help them replicate and scale those ideas into sustainable change.

In order to become a thought leader, there are four focus areas that every ADR professional should use to develop a writing presence online, via blogging, which may lead to being a thought leader:

Demonstrate expertise: Show that you know what you know. Demonstrating expertise can either come from an academic or theoretical background. However, every ADR professional has experienced conflict—and helped others get a better handle on the conflict they are experiencing.

Repeat, wash, repeat: Don’t just facilitate a mediation, a training—or write a blog post—only once. Do it once and then do it again and again. This shows the power of consistency and commitment. Which we addressed in our last article.

It ain’t bragging if you’ve done it: Writing about what you’ve done as an ADR professional is not bragging. It shows your expertise and success—as well as any fallacies and failures—that you may have experienced as a peace building professional.

Go a mile deep + a mile wide: Being an ADR professional is tough if you are differentiated widely in your practice or approach. Going a mile deep allows you to stay fresh and going a mile wide allows your influence to increase exponentially.

These four focus areas tie directly into the last three skills of persuasion that an ADR blogger must consider as they are building their influence through blogging and writing:

  • Liking: The rule of liking really focuses on the fact that we do things for people that we like and that we build a connection and relationship with over time. In the realm of becoming a thought leader through blogging, the rule of liking comes through when you build connections with others who read what you write.
  • Authority:  The rule of authority states that we tend to defer to others in authority based on physical attributes, titles, or even clothes and other trappings of “power.” In the realm of ADR, titles, attributes and clothes can be analogized to actual credentialing, images on your blog, and the way in which you present in the digital space. A lot of this is determined by the audience that you are seeking to attract.
  • Scarcity: The rule of scarcity says that we want more of what we can’t have—or that is in limited supply. In the digital world, where it seems as though every blogger is giving away content for free, scarcity comes to a thought leader during the times that you show up in person.

Questions or feedback about this?

Questions or feedback about this?  Write to me at or connect with me via Twitter @Sorrells79 or check out my Facebook Business page and leave a comment there, or message me on LinkedIn.

Up Next: Storytelling for the Peace builder, Part One

By Jesan Sorrell

Jesan Sorrells is the founder, owner and principal conflict engagement consultant at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT), a boutique, private, conflict communication and corporate training consultancy, based out of Endicott, NY. HSCT focuses on delivering Christian based, alternative dispute resolution solutions in the areas of conflict communication, conflict skills development and conflict consulting for a variety of clients, including corporations, higher education organizations and nonprofits. HSCT accomplishes this by leveraging cutting edge, pioneering and entrepreneurial resolutions to conflict, communications, social media, and organizational development for its clients through trainings, seminars, workshops and 1-on-1 consulting.