The term “thought leader” is bandied about such abandon these days that it’s nearly impossible to avoid. As with much marketing-speak, its use is so frequent that it has become devoid of meaning.
Everyone wants to be seen a thought leader, but few adhere to the true meaning of the term. (I freely admit to at times being distracted by its siren song.)
What does it actually mean to be a thought leader? Does it even mean anything anymore?
I came across a truly inspiring (I don’t use the word lightly) treatise on the topic by way of a LinkedIn group I’m part of; very seldom do conversations in those LI groups cause more than frustration or disappointment at their vacuity.
No so in this case.
Simply put, and I’m in violent agreement, true thought leadership focuses not on enabling a business transaction at some point; in fact, it rarely does more in marketing terms than building the speaker’s brand. Rather, it shakes up existing patterns of thought, upsetting old paradigms and commonly accepted notions in favor a bolder, transformative vision. It doesn’t happen very often, because truly deep thought is difficult, and true leadership isn’t something we’re called to provide all day, every day.
In essence, it’s a rare bird by definition.
How often do you read such an article?
Rather seldom, I’d wager – but, just like the author of the article in reference, you know it when you see it.