The other day I was introduced as a “thought leader.” As you can imagine, I was flattered, but I was also confused and amused. I was confused because I’m still not so sure what it means to be a thought leader, and I was amused because if I’m the one leading your thoughts you’re all in a lot of trouble.
I’ve been hearing this term “thought leader” for some time now, but never really sat down to explore what it means before today. Heck, I have some time.
What is a Thought Leader, Anyway?
As everyone knows, Google holds the power to reveals answers to all life’s little questions. So where else better to search for definitions of thoughts leaders than Google?
What I found out is that “thought leader” is another term for guru.
Again, I laugh.
In my experience, the folks who are doing the best thinking aren’t the ones screaming it from the mountain tops. They’re the quiet leaders who keep their thoughts to themselves and lead by their actions.
I’m anything but quiet and I’m certainly not a guru.
I’m not sure I like the idea of “thought” leaders. To me it’s saying that someone else is doing all the thinking for us. Right now is the best time to march to our own drummers and let our creativity shine through. With all the mediocre writing out there, who wants to think like everyone else?
I don’t want to be your thought leader, that’s too much of a burden to bear and I don’t want to be responsible for your thinking. Instead, I don’t mind being a thought encourager or a thought stimulator but to me “thought leader” conjures up images of poisoned Kool Aid. I kind of enjoy presenting ideas and scenarios for you to think about, I don’t want to dictate how you think.
Again, if I’m a thought leader, you’re all in trouble.
Chris Mower says
I’ve always considered thought leaders as people who introduce new thoughts and ideas into a culture or group. They don’t have to be the guru of a subject, but they usually know a little more about a subject than the next guy over. Thought leaders cause people to question their own ways of doing things without being iconoclasts. It’s very possible you are a thought leader without even knowing it :).
.-= Chris Mower´s last blog ..12 Simple Lessons in Leadership for Those Who Want to Make a Difference =-.
Deb Ng says
Well, Chris. When you put it that way…
Deb, I forgot where I put my keys. As my thought leader it’s your fault 🙂
Rachel Rueben says
Deb you have plenty to offer writers and I don’t believe the term “thought leader” was misused. Now when they start calling you a guru then you’ll have something to worry about unless, you plan on moving the FWJ community to a compound in the desert:) You’re not, right?
.-= Rachel Rueben ´s last blog ..When it does suck! =-.
Erik Hare says
The term does have a whiff of mind control, something like most of The Brain’s plots to take over the world in “Pinky and the Brain”.
I would watch out for genetically engineered hamsters, if I were you. 🙂
.-= Erik Hare´s last blog ..Restaurant Biz =-.
It’s happened several times that I’ve thought about posting on a particular topic, but Deb has beaten me to it. Does that mean we’re sharing the same brain? There are definitely worse things than being on the same wavelength as a Thought Leader. 😀
.-= Jodee´s last blog ..How to Stand Out from the Crowd When Applying for Gigs =-.
Lucy Smith says
“to me “thought leader” conjures up images of poisoned Kool Aid” – funny, because the first thing I thought of was the Movementarians on the Simpsons: “the leader is good, the leader is great, we surrender our will, as of this date!”
Maybe you’re a ‘thought leader’ for anyone too lazy to think for themselves – look at some of the emails you get.
.-= Lucy Smith´s last blog ..Some light relief for a short week =-.
Jenn Fowler says
I think it’s fine if someone else says you are a thought leader (which I always believed meant one was forward thinking-ahead of the curve if you know what I mean). It’s the folks who refer to THEMSELVES as a though leader or guru that you have to run away screaming from.
.-= Jenn Fowler´s last blog ..I’m Back! =-.