A Wikipedia search on thought leadership results in redirection to an entry called “Thought Leader.” The first paragraph, a short, and in my view a slightly pejorative one, calls thought leader a buzzword. Interestingly, the second paragraph starts, “Thought leadership is an increasingly vital driver of business success.” The messages? Describing oneself as a thought leader may be seen as a symptom of prima donna-ship. On the other hand. engaging in thought leadership is imperative. Maybe searching on “thought leader” should result in a redirect to an entry on “thought leadership”
I believe thought leadership is an essential and powerful tool. It isn’t just for experts but everyone.
A key thought leadership process is (given the usual constraints of time and resources): research, plan, and think about the problem or problems at hand. In the beginning, when the problem is first uncovered, begin by understanding what it is as much as is possible. To do so may require repeating a test or recalling the details. Write it down – describe the problem, the sooner the better. Describe it so that others are able to understand what it is without them having to ask more questions. That’s a very tall order. That’s going to require a real understanding of the problem. And that is the point..To meet this objective, disciplined research might be necessary. Possible solutions should also be documented as they come to mind.
Practicing thought leadership should result in a bit of calmness, introduced by stepping back (“stand away from the problem!!”). As Douglas Adams comfortingly and wisely wrote, “don’t panic.”
Another core facet of thought leadership is consciously working toward having domain expertise in the areas one works in. Learn – – – basic, intermediate and advanced knowledge. Then keep abreast of the field. Why is this so important? Solutions or near solutions to the probem may already exist.
Finally, contribute to the field, advance it: publish, teach, mentor, share, lead (become a thought leader).
Link related to this essay:
Further Reading, a few Thought Leadership suggestions: