As a thought leader, you may be great at telling stories through a presentation deck,…
A few weeks ago, after a morning run, I felt pain flare up in my foot. Soon, it hurt to take a single step. I tried the simple remedies—heat, elevation, and ice—for twenty-four hours, but they weren’t bringing much relief. While I sat on the couch, I did what everyone does these days—checked my symptoms on WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic.
I narrowed my symptoms down to tendonitis, a sprain, or a stress fracture. Without an x-ray and possibly an MRI, there was no way to be sure. So, I limped my way to the doctor’s office, to get a professional diagnosis.
In this situation, I knew something was clearly wrong. My body was signaling pain, but I couldn’t interpret the cause on my own. I needed an expert who had the right tools and training to evaluate my condition and recommend the proper course of treatment.
When a business unit leader seeks external thought leadership, it’s frequently driven by pain. Something’s not right within the organization, and they lack the internal skills, experience, or availability to properly treat their ailment. Sometimes, the leader can point to worrisome organizational metrics trending in the wrong direction. Other times, the leader senses a problem that’s not even tracked on internal dashboards or scorecards. In either case, the business unit leader looks outside the organization because the root cause cannot be diagnosed internally. They’re looking for expert decision making from the thought leader, like an individual with a swollen foot turns to an orthopedist.
An enterprise-ready thought leader must conduct diagnostics confidently and skillfully—whether they lead it themselves or through a specialized consulting team. As the engagement proceeds, it’s important to:
I booked an appointment with my doctor a few days after my injury. A lead apron and a few prods later the doctor told me to take ibuprofen and start some gentle stretches. No breaks, no cancer, just a case of tendonitis with instructions to take it easy for a few days. On my own I wouldn’t have known whether to keep it elevated or to amputate, but under a professional eye I was back to my run in no time.