A rejuvenated return and the rebirth of thought leadership

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I know, I know. It’s been too long between posts, and what kind of a thought leader disappears for that long? Apologies all around.

That said, during this hiatus I was struck with several epiphanies that led me to an evolving paradigm of Thought Leadership. I’ve posted before about how everything gets its buzzword, which immediately devalues whatever it is we happen to be buzzing about. Thought leadership is on the edge, if not over it. And I know why.

It comes down to inspiration, the missing component of too many modern campaigns. The presiding call to arms is that anyone can be a thought leader, it only requires the willingness to market your innovative thinking. This remains true in many respects, and breeds an essential respect for authority that helps to solidify brands. It inspires recognition, trust, and relationships.

But does it inspire action? I submit that it depends on timing, the mindset of the audience, the value of the innovation and the quality of its articulation.

True inspiration leads to action on its own. If delivered strongly, passionately and with enough consistency, it can to a degree perform independently of the above variables. For some business and social leaders, the achievable goal must move forward from earning respect and relationships to generating inspiration and action.

Some low-hanging case studies:

Barak Obama (yes, I’m actually leading with Barak Obama) implied that race should be tackled head on. The result was a flurry of conversation and editorial that is summed up by this NPR story.

The best part of this is that the inspiration was short lived…why? Because Obama has to spread himself around a little these days. The message only gets through with consistent delivery; imagine what would happen if he ran a Thought Leadership campaign solely devoted to breaking down racial divides?

Al Gore might be the premiere example of taking a theme about which he was passionate as far as he could (thus far): he grew awareness of the global warming issue, remained dedicated to evangelizing it, and inspired a generation to act.

In the trenches, socially responsible investment manager Reynders, McVeigh is taking on some of these traits of inspiration through select investments. Their role in bringing the IMAX film “Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk” to the screen was rooted in a passion for the issues. At a Boston screening of the movie, participants in the project cited a mission of inspiring and educating through entertainment, a statement that – at its heart – aligns with the goals of a true Thought Leader.

There are lessons that can be applied, projects that will add to the evolution that will elevate Thought Leadership to its rightful place beyond the buzzword.

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