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Thought Leaders Should Inspire Change Leaders

I had a great conversation last week with an author and true thought leader. At first we discussed how the term “thought leader” is quickly becoming over used (is it Guru 2.0?) and we agreed that anyone that labels him or herself a thought leader probably isn’t one. If someone else calls you a thought leader it’s truly a compliment. Labeling yourself as one should be a red flag and at least a misdemeanor.

We then got into a discussion about the purpose that a thought leader serves his or her clients and followers. While I don’t believe there is a single correct answer I believe there are a few things that are important and that true thought leaders do well.

  1.  Introduce new ideas and concepts to others so that they can improve their lives either on a personal level or at the team or organizational level.
  2.  Make the concepts fun and relevant.
  3. Be passionate about your work.
  4.  Be a true expert in your field.
  5. Inspire others to change something. It could be a belief, a behavior, a process, a way of leading, selling or operating that is better than the current way they are doing something.

The last point is, in my opinion, the most important one. Too many people read too many books on management, leadership, personal development, sales and so on, but don’t take any action or implement the concepts. Change is not easy and it is typically best done in an incremental way.  A true thought leader should actually inspire a change leader to do something different based on the thought leader’s work; the way they’ve been able to articulate the value and benefit of the work. Getting someone to grasp a concept on an intellectual level while not the easiest thing in the world to do, is quite simple when you compare that to getting someone to change a belief, behavior or process.


Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Peter, I am enjoying your blogs! I have a question about how you differentiate a thought leader from a change leader, per your comment above, “A true thought leader should actually inspire a change leader to do something different based on the thought leader’s work….”

  2. Peter- every year Trust Across America issues its Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business, so this blog post hit home!

    I agree that the best thought leaders are those that can inspire change. This elite group are also among the “authentic”, who live their passion 24/7 not just 9 to 5. When you meet them or hear them speak, it doesn’t take long to recognize these qualities.

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