I was in the process of getting another laptop since my last one was broken. I decided to visit a local computer store to talk with its owner; I had been doing business with this company for over several years. I was looking for an inexpensive laptop since I already had a desktop.
However, the owner suggested that he could build me a basic computer for a small price. I trusted and respected his opinion. Yet, I went against the opinion leader because he didn’t fully understand my bottom-line. Likewise, today’s opinion leaders who lose sight of their own constituents can lose their followers also.
For the record, an opinion leader is someone who is frequently able to influence others’ attitudes or behaviors. Michael Solomon, author of Consumer Behavior, suggests that opinion leaders tend to share consumer values and beliefs so that there is a connection between the opinion leader and the consumer.
Marketing expert Guy Bergstom further maintains that an opinion leader is anyone who has an active voice in a community. Therefore, these individuals often speak out on issues and get asked to provide advice.
In society, there are people who possess natural stature and credibility. Product developers use Hollywood celebrities because they are popular icons that allow them to be opinion leaders.
Currently, the media heavily influences consumer behavior. The Washingtonpost.com has over 10,000,000 readers worldwide. Opinion leaders use this medium to influence public discussion while others come to learn more about the issues.
For example, most Americans feel negatively about outsourcing abroad, primarily to China and India. They view these foreign countries as a serious threat to American way of life. A recent Gallup-China Daily USA survey demonstrates how media can shift public opinion. Two-thirds of the public and a sample of United States opinion leaders view China to be a friendly ally of the United States.
With the assistant of the Internet, many individuals can influence other people like never before. In fact, bloggers and website owners often upstage traditional media because these nontraditional sources because a frequent source for the average person. However, it is important that opinion leaders never forget their followers in this social engagement.
Discuss your professional and personal experiences with opinion leaders.
© 2012 by Daryl D. Green
5 thoughts on “Leading from a Public Platform”
An opinion leader seems to have many traits in common with anyone in the sales profession. From a business perspective, salespeople are often the driving revenue source for an organization. That is why it is important for them to (ethically) position products and services so that consumers will be more enticed to purchase the products or services. However, there can be a fine line between what is good for the company and what is good for the customer.
Corporate Social Responsibility should be a major initiative for all organizations. It can provide evidence for consumers and the rest of the business world advocating reasons why the firm behaves in a way that is considered socially responsible. Verizon Communications, for example, releases an annual report dedicated to illustrating how the company is a good corporate citizen. Upon visiting its website responsibility.verizon.com, one can read taglines such as “Using our Technology to Build Truer Connections” or “Working to Solve Critical Social Issues for Our Communities.” Publicly demonstrating a desire to help the community can always supplement an opinion leader’s image.
Corporate Responsibility. (2012). Retrieved from responsibility.verizon.com
Regarding literature on effective leadership, one of the greatest books ever written was Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great in the 4th century BC. Historians refer to Cyrus as, “the most amiable of conquerors” and as the first king to found “his empire on generosity” instead of violence and tyranny. Amongst his recommendations for leadership is to be courteous and kind. He states, “there is a deep–and usually frustrated–desire in the heart of everyone to act with benevolence rather than selfishness, and one fine instance of generosity can inspire dozens more.” An example of such a leader is medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, one of the founders of Partners In Health. He is responsible for establishing free hospitals in countries such as Haiti, Rwanda, and Malawi. Dr. Farmer has often hiked for days to check in on his patients, provide them with free medicine and cash stipends for food, and has made transportation available to many for monthly doctor appointments. His generosity is a great inspiration to millions of individuals worldwide and is one of the reasons I chose to pursue a career in medicine. The world would be a much better place if we had more leaders like Dr. Farmer.
Holiday, Ryan (April 19, 2012). 9 Timeless Leadership Lessons from Cyrus the Great. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanholiday/2012/04/19/9-timeless-leadership-lessons-from-cyrus-the-great/
I experienced an accident which resulted in a herniated disc that needed operation. I went to a leader in my community named Dr. Abdul Hak, who said that surgery would be the best in this particular after exhausting physical therapy. I’ve known him from my religious institution and he is highly known in the community and as an expert neurosurgeon therefore I trusted his opinion and went on with the surgery even though others differed. I am pleased I listened to him because it has made a tremendous impact in my life.
Another figure who is an opinion leader is Oprah Winfrey. She is one of the most prominent opinion leaders in the whole world. Through her TV show she has created many new trends in fashion, health, politics and publishing. Appearing on her show is considered a short ticket to fame and fortune. Celebrities such as Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil are products of her show. The books she has endorsed have instantly become best sellers. People she has spoken favorably about have become overnight celebrities. As a result Oprah’s influence will be felt in our society long after she is gone.
“Leadership is accomplishing something through other people that wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t here….Leadership is being able to mobilize ideas and values that energize other people….Leaders develop a story line that engages other people. -Noel Tichy
The quote by Noel Tichy defines leaderships three characterization and address the topics of management, energizing employees, and style of management, yet they are all the sub-parts of the corporate culture and values.
All of the core values, beliefs, business principles, ethical standards, traditions, behaviors, work practices and management style make up the culture for the CEO, supervisors, management, and employees. (GLO-BUS, 2012). It takes all of the values being practice by all involved to make the outcome beneficial for the corporation. Even the school system must follow core values, although they are not big global corporations with strategies or mega million financial budgets. The schools systems still need core values, beliefs, business principles, ethical standards, traditions, behaviors, work practices and management styles that make up the culture for the staff, faculty, and students.
1. GLO-BUS Premium. (2012). GLO-BUS Premium Business Interaction Game. STRATEGY: Core Concepts and analytical Approaches. Chapter 12, pp 220-236. Retrieved at http://www.glo-bus.com/DocViwer/# on April 27, 2012.
As a regular twitter user, I am constantly getting feedback from individuals who consider themselves to be opinion leaders by offering their frequent, and sometimes profound-sometimes controversial 140 character messages. With the advent of new media today, a lot of attention is placed on what people say on online social networks. Such information has the potential of becoming tomorrow’s headline, helping a long-forgotten music artist reconnect with their fans, or being the catalyst for someone losing their job. I value the possibilities that this technology offers, because therein lies the opportunity for a regular person such as myself to communicate or share my expertise with the world. It seems to be the trend for people to use online social networks to build their professional clout in order establish themselves as an opinion leader. There is actually a website called Klout, that allows users to measure their level of influence from their social media “likes,” “comments,” “retweets,” and other forms of sharing, and utilize their scores in their job search. However, a recent article states that Klout (or online influence) should not be equated with actual professional clout. Online influence does not measure the amount of offline relationships and actions that one has taken.
Reference: Flemmings, Hajj. “Clout vs. Klout: Why the Latter Doesn’t Measure True Influence. Retrieved 5 May, 2012 from http://www.blackenterprise.com/2012/05/02/clout-vs-klout-why-the-latter-doesnt-measure-true-influence/