On blogs and social media aimed at the business world the term “Thought Leader” has become the buzz word for “you must follow what I say cos I’m out there making it happen”. Originally when the expression emerged about five or six years ago the TL title was more or less reserved for the Academic writers and thinkers from the likes of Harvard, Insead, LSE and Stanford and indeed these were the place those of us struggling to deal with the theory of business (or legalised Capitalism as I lately heard it called) looked to for intellectual stimulus , for thought leadership in our fields.
The speed with which what we think and now express what we think has corrupted this important method of development, as indeed has the phrase “social media”where anyone can express truly what she/he thinks and tell us at the same time that they were doing it whilst drinking coffee in Starbucks, is amazing
Why my little rant? Am I taking a shot at being a “Thought Leader “? No I’m a muller (no my Muslim friends , one who mulls over issues,) but last week I recieved a profile, sent to me by a client, where the individual had as his running title below his name “Thought Leader in Business initiative” He may have had experience to burn, he certainly was not learned in the academic sense, but it was eye catching. So I mulled and I came to the conclusion: The phrase has become redundant; the sense has been lost and in its wake we need to examine closely how we pitch our expertise in the outside world because calling media social does not make it so nor claiming leadership in thought .