A number of American leaders have uttered these words on the eve of change; “lead, follow or get out of the way”. In the world of change and innovation you can be a leader, a follower or get in the way of both. In the last 5 years, the newly coined label of ‘thought leader’ has been written about, talked about, systematized, bulleted, ‘work-shopped’ and woven into the current jargon of business and brand marketing. Are we only successful if we are a thought leader? What if we are simply ‘thought followers’? Isn’t that enough? Yes – in fact, it’s critical since thought followers are what create and support thought leaders. Both are important to spreading the use of new, innovative approaches for improvement on topics of shared interest.
Best Thought Leaders are passionate, authentic, inspired, and share their perspective eagerly and regularly. It’s like there is an internal ‘push’ that makes them want to comment on what connects to, or deepens an understanding of their topic of passion. They are clear about their expertise and the value they contribute to their audience. They have clarity about the ‘brand’ that is them, speak with their own voice, and make communicating their perspective a priority in their lives.
Best Thought Followers are interested, knowledgeable, and informative about their topic of interest. Many share best practices from others on a regular basis. They collect information on their topic of interest and often comment on discussion threads. Thought followers and their knowledge sharing is the work that supports thought leaders to bring their ideas into the mainstream.
Here are some of the differences:
Both roles are vital to moving fresh ideas, innovations and learnings into the way things are done for continuous and transformative improvement. Thought leaders are generating and promoting new ideas and practices, thought followers are using them and sharing them to improve practice on the ground.
Many of us would like to make the move from thought follower to thought leader, yet are unsure about what value we could contribute. Some of us are clear about the value we could add, but have limiting beliefs that hold us back from making the move. If you want to learn more about making the move from thought follower to thought leader, join us tomorrow for part 2 Making the Move to Thought Leader – Taking the Lead.