Who are your “Thought Leaders”?
.. but before any of us can answer that we need to know What or who is a thought leader?
According to the great research “god” Wikipedia:
The term was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business. “Thought leader” was used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas that merited attention
The definition I prefer comes from Forbes:
“It’s a truism that thought leaders tend to be the most successful individuals or firms in their respective fields. Furthermore, in the research literature, there’s a general consensus that being a thought leader whether you’re an individual or employed at an organization and you want to grow the business, or even an association seeking new members as well as more generous sponsors, being a thought leader can make a very significant and positive difference”
Increasingly the term is being used to reference people that make (or help us) to think. To challenge the status quo. To provide insight into a different way of thinking or leading people, products and organisations.
Thought Leaders Everywhere
Thought leaders are all around us in many guises. On the ecademy site for example, members such as:
Are all leaders of thought for very different reasons.
Steve because he challenges our thinking on everyday issues and keeps things real, Carolyn because she sheds a light of positivity and engagement, Fraser due to his obsession with sharing and giving information freely, Robert because of his incisive views ans insight, Alan because he bridges academia and pragmatism (a little too academic at time for me – but a great inspiration none the less)
And Fred for his sheer passion.
People are often thought leaders not because of their actual words, but HOW thos messages are conveyed.
Thought Leaders – are they made?
According to a piece published by the Harvard Business Review – How to become a thought leaderthere are six essential steps
- Create a Robust Online Presence
- Flaunt High-Quality Affiliations
- Appear on TV
- Win Some Awards
- Publish a Book
- Well this list of items will certainly put a person up on a pedestal to be shot down (as often happens), but are these really leaders that we can aspire to be, or are they illusions of an overall image? Is this a mandatory list of factors, or a reflection of a narrow group of “though leaders” in the US marketing and branding market space?
For me I prefer to recognise an individuals individual strengths and seek to learn and listen from that place. Not putting the person on a pedestal, but the concepts, thoughts and vehicles they use.
For me being a “thought leader” for most businesses is about doing something to which other people aspire.
One thing is for sure, other than on literature for specific marketing, we should never identify ourselves as thought leaders, but it is a role which is placed upon us, and one that is transient, not permanent.For being a leader at one point in time in a given context, is only a passing phase and not a fixed position. That world in which a person WAS a thought leader may have moved on, Sometimes that person will, often they wont move on fast enough.
What do you think? who is a thought leader for you, for your business at the moment? why?
Who are thought leaders that influence you?