The concept of thought leadership has been around for a few years, long enough to attract its own stand-up comedy character.
Thought leaders can have important role in positioning your company or organisation, in a series of three posts I’m going to provide;
- a definition of thought leadership, with examples
- the benefits of thought leaders and how to identify them in your organisation or industry
- guide on positioning thought leaders in your company or organisation
So what does “Thought Leader” mean? Wiki gives the definition;
A thought leader can refer to an individual or firm that is recognised as an authority in a specialised field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.
A true thought leader will have a solid base of expertise, skills in communicating with the relevant audience, ideas about the future, and be driving that future.
It’s a tough position to fill, so who qualifies as a thought leader? Some examples will help.
Humanitarian; Malala Yousafzai
The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the girl who famously took a bullet in order to go to school. Malala now lives in the UK and continues to campaign for education and other rights for girls and women.
Innovation; Elon Musk
Founder of Pay-Pal, Tesla Cars, and responsible for landing big ideas. I saw him interviewed at the Dublin Web Summit and was immediately impressed by the scale of his vision
Business; Sheryl Sandberg
The COO of Facebook and the first women to join their board, her book Lean In has inspired a movement of Lean In circles supporting women’s growth in business.
Investment; Warren Buffet
Buffet’s rules for investing well have become famous, some can be applied to business or even more generally to life. He’s one of the founders of the Giving Pledge, where very wealthy people pledge to give away at least half of their wealth.
Environment; Ellen MacArthur
MacArthur famous for sailing solo, non-stop around the world as the fulfilment of her childhood dream. She now campaigns for economic reform to sustain our environment, the Circular Economy.
Most of these are household names, but a thought leader may be less broadly known, but well-known, and sought after, in their field.
Next Week; Finding Your Thought Leaders
Image: The Thinker | Christopher Brown | CC BY-2.0
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