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Thoughts on Thought Leadership

There is a word, or rather two words used as a one-word phrase, that has been floating around lately and sounds very smart, very intelligent…very in the know: thought leader.  Or, thought leadership.  Wow.  Have that moniker stuck on you and have it said that you were among the thought leaders, you might think you were pretty up there.  Pretty important.  So, what does it mean?

In looking this up around the internet, I decided to settle on something I found on the company website where my brother is a …”Senior Chief Principal at Delegata, Brian Lee is also our Organizational Change Management (OCM) Practice Lead….”  [That’s quite a title, but he’s still my little brother!]  I found this useful quote: “…Meet today’s goals while aligning with tomorrow’s vision.”  [find this quote here]  It seems to me to fit with the idea of thought leadership.

Wikipedia also has a definition of thought leader:

  • “…Thought leader is a buzzword or article of jargon used to describe a futurist or person who is recognized among peers and mentors for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights (thinklets)….” [note: I removed all the hyperlinks that came with this quote…go to this link to check them for yourself]

I think the Wikipedia definition meshes well with my brother’s company’s quote.  It sounds like thought leadership is something like taking vision – the “what ifs” and combining it with what’s available as a delivery system and making it work.  It seems to have to do with combining ideas with action.  It’s one thing to think things up.  To innovate in ideas only.  And it’s quite another to then take those ideas and innovations and make them applicable.  It seems that the key is the applicability.

If I said you were a thought leader, I think what I’m saying is that you are more than just someone who puts forth ideas.  Anyone can come up with an idea.  But not anyone can also link that idea with do-ability.  Here’s an idea: bring water to a thirsty world.  Here’s how a thought leader might present it: the Hippo Water Roller.

This is a visionary idea – that of bringing water to thirsty people and dry areas, and an innovative, do-able method: “…a simple technology…safe water supply system that has immediate and measurable benefit….

I like the thought leader idea better than the old think tank – the think tank was/is a research and report entity.  Not a think it up and put it into action entity.  Thought Leaders.  Our world needs many of these.

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