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The 'Thought Leader' Has No Clothes!

Tom Fishburne:

The term “thought leadership” was first coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor of Strategy+Business, with a narrow focus in mind. He wrote:

“Thought Leaders are those people who possess a distinctively original idea, a unique point of view, or an unprecedented insight into their industry.”

Since then, the meaning of thought leadership has devolved into a catch-all term that is interchangeable with pretty much any sort of content, whether or not it’s “distinctively original”, “unique”, or “unprecedented”. There are more people than ever claiming the mantle of thought leadership.

As soon as I hear the words ‘thought leader’ mentioned in reference to a person, I immediately know that it’s not worth my time reading what they’ve written.

Sadly, that applies to a lot of actual leaders too.

This is one reason why I left LinkedIn, it felt like every other person I encountered there had decided they were a ‘thought leader’ or were being promoted as such by LinkedIn.

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