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Last week I wrote to you about what we've been calling "The Authority Gap" (go read it here, if you missed it). The crux of the concept is that folks who make decisions highly value thought leadership—and in fact perceive excellent thought leaders' services as worth paying a premium for. (Cool, right?)
But what is a thought leader? (This is for all of you who replied with this very question.)
I want to first acknowledge that while I am a person who knows a lot of things and has spent the last 20 years in my field, I am also not the only word, so I feel a bit awkward laying down definitions like this. So, as I always say, take what you need from my commentary and listen to others you trust as well to develop your own framework and thinking around this and really any subject.
I define a thought leader as a deep subject matter expert (you've got the receipts to prove you know what you're talking about) who generates new ideas and vision around their subject matter and shares those ideas generously (that can be through articles, a podcast, videos on YouTube, a book, even interviews in the press). I only consider someone to be a thought leader if they hope to see their ideas become bigger than themselves and take flight through their community and beyond.
My definition is informed by my commitment to the principles of movement marketing, and is often not included in most people's definition of a thought leadership.
There's a certain amount of confidence required to say "Hey, let's think differently," but there's also a certain amount of humility required to also say, "And I want you to adopt and adapt this thinking too."
That's where we see thought leaders stand out from influencers. The word "leader" does a lot of heavy lifting in the concept.
How do you define thought leadership? Who do you follow for thought leadership you're likely to embrace? What would it take to see yourself in this way?