After all of the research, development and distribution of content, the peace builder should pause for a moment and take stock of what she has done.  If she’s been savvy, focused and determined, in about 36 months or so, the dividends from creating compelling content and getting it in front of eyeballs should begin come to fruition.

The way that the dividends begin to accrue is through small things: A client tells her that he read her article by following a link from her social media accounts to her blog. Or, perhaps, a fan or audience member will tell the savvy peace builder that she has downloaded her podcast episode and distributed it, via email, to her own group of friends and family.  

By tracking these intersections and conversations both informally and formally, using analytical tools like Google Analytics, the peace builder can begin to make determinations about what works to develop, grow and lead her audience and what doesn’t. This is the first level of influence, where liking ends and authority begins. This is beyond blogging and other forms of content creation. The concept of becoming a thought leader in the field of peacemaking—and peace building—begins at this point.

Let’s further define the amorphous term “thought leader” and tie it back into two areas that should be familiar to every peace builder, regardless of their client base: power and influence.

Once again, from Denise Broussard’s website (link here) we get a more granular definition of a thought leader:

Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. They create a dedicated group of friends, fans and followers to help them replicate and scale those ideas into sustainable change not just in one company but in an industry, niche or across an entire ecosystem.

That definition is full of meaning, but the most important part of the definition of a thought leader are the words “trust” “innovative” “dedicated” “sustainable.” These words lie at the core of a peace builder’s work. These words should lie at the core of every peace building effort from the marketing of content, processes and services, all the way to in-person coaching, consulting, mediating advocating and more.

In the realm of thought leadership though, power and influence are drivers for gaining an audience that trusts what the peace builder publishes and produces. Peace builders are familiar with the roles of power and influence in the areas of negotiation, mediation and arbitration, but in thought leadership, it’s a little bit different. Though not by much:

From The Elements of Power website (link here) we get a distinctive definition of power and influence, as well as the difference between management and leadership:

There can be no leadership without influence, because influencing is how leaders lead. In their classic book on leadership, Leaders:  Strategies for Taking Charge, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus echo this point: "There is a profound difference between management and leadership," they wrote, "and both are important. 'To manage' means 'to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct.' 'Leading' is 'influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion.'" They add that "an essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence."

In our first article about this (link here), we talked about the four focus areas for a ADR professional trying to develop a following—demonstrating expertise, practice consistency, write about successes and failures, and differentiate your audience.

The capacity to influence others should come with a caution for the savvy peace builder, the burgeoning ADR professional and the person with the desire to lead and influence through creating content: practice what you preach.

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: Becoming a Thought Leader, Part 3: Avoiding Hypocrisy

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.