A Thought Leadership Strategy That Goes Against The Grain, Ep #10
6 min

It’s amazing how words and phrases become popularized and used until they are almost useless. The phrase “thought leadership” is a great example. These days, people seem obsessed with building strategies around thought leadership. But they are doing so without a true understanding of what it is.

Thought leadership is not about having innovative or original ideas in your niche or industry. It’s about helping to lead other people’s thoughts.

This episode is a quick encapsulation of my thoughts on thought leadership strategy. I hope it helps you clarify what thought leadership is, how you should be pursuing it, and especially, how it informs the way you lead the emerging leaders around you.

What is thought leadership?

As I mentioned earlier, thought leadership is sometimes defined as having original or innovative ideas within your niche or industry. Come on, can we really presume to think that any individual has an entirely original thought in their area of expertise? That’s a very high bar to set for any human being.

I tend to like definitions that are more practical. Here’s how I view thought leadership.

DEFINITION: A thought leader is any person who helps lead other people’s thoughts, and therefore, their actions.

The impetus of thought leadership is not creativity or innovation, it’s influence. Listen to this episode to understand what needs to go into any true thought leadership strategy.

Do you have a thought leadership strategy toward your emerging leaders?

If you seek to guide up-and-coming leaders in the development of their leadership skills, you need to have a strategy for how you plan to do that. In my view, senior leaders need to do two primary things to exercise thought leadership toward those they are developing as leaders...

#1 - Identify the causes they are passionate about and for which they want to be champions (thought leaders).

Senior leaders have a responsibility to emerging leaders in this regard. We have to help them become the thought leaders they desire to be.

We also have a responsibility to support them in becoming the champions they dream of being.

#2 - We need to lead them to understand that every leader has the capacity to be a thought leader, and should be.

This is multi-faceted…

  • We need to teach emerging leaders how to become thought leaders without thwarting the ideas of those around them
  • We should teach and show them how to build others up through their leadership

Leadership is about being in tune with and leveraging the thoughts of others. That’s what senior leaders need to teach and that’s what they need to model.

A thought leader leads people in their thinking and therefore, in their actions.

Outline of This Episode
  • [1:03] Did you know there is a “brandished words” list?
  • [2:15] “Thought leader” made the list. Isn’t that interesting?
  • [3:09] What does it really mean to be a “thought leader?” Let’s be practical
  • [4:01] Mutually meaningful work engagements requires two things
Resources & People Mentioned Connect With Bruce

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