Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thought Leadership

Are you an innovative thinker?
Have you ever even thought about it?

Thought innovation and thought leadership is a growing idea in education, but it has been around in businesses for a lot longer. These catch phrases are used to refer to thinkers and thought-leaders of our time, those who are willing to share their thoughts freely and at the risk of being wrong or even appearing foolish.

Thought leadership is defined in two parts:
- the thinking
- the leading

We all think. We all process new ideas and thoughts. The difference is that we don't all feel compelled to share these thoughts, especially if we think they may be 'out there' or colleagues may think the idea ridiculous or perhaps just not support it. For every 2-300 thoughts that are shared, discussed and debated, I would anticipate that maybe 5-10 ever get beyond the boardroom.

But let's look at that in a real-life context:
The Wright Brothers never bothered to think about the aerodynamics of a bird, so we remained grounded...
Henry Ford gave up on the mass production theory...
Albert Einstein dabbled in banking instead of thinking...
Edison decided that nothing could hold light in a stable manner...
Alexander Bell rationalised that writing a letter was better than trying to have instant conversations!

You can see that thoughts and innovation have gone hand in hand for all of time, but what separates these people and millions of others in the past, present and future is ACTION.

It is easy to think. It is simple to dream. We can all suggest ideas but what defines us as a thought leader is ACTION. The dogmatic approach to realising a dream rather than being sad about what didn't happen.

Thought leaders revolutionise their areas of learning and knowledge. They challenge the norms and expectations. They crush pre-conceptions and they laugh in the face of failure. Thought leaders are willing to dare, lose, fail, dodge bullets. They are able to be resilient beyond anything that others may think or how they may be criticised. They think their way through issues and problems and they lead their way through to solutions. The key strategy is to be different from others!

Are you a thought leader? Are you leading the way in an area of thinking that you have not even yet realised? Are you questioning the norms and challenging expectations? Are you creating problems ready for big ideas for solutions?


  1. Hmm interesting post. I think that sometimes, especially at the lower levels, think of leadership as something done by other people when we all have the power to be a leader by showing initiative and diligence. Great post!

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