Friday, September 19, 2014

Thought Leadership is a Mindset

From looking like a leader to thinking as a leader.

Cutting edge thinking is the key in a fast moving, fast changing, the highly connected digital world of business. Thus, thought leadership is one of the most authentic digital leadership characteristics. What is the thought leadership and who are the thought leaders. A thought leader is someone who looks at the future and sets a course for others to follow, or it could be a process, a methodology, a system, a philosophy, etc to which the thought leader adds a new insight and perspective. Thought leaders are often challenging the conventional thinking and current best practices then come up with the next and better practices. They foment change, often causing great constructive disruption.

Thought leadership is as important to management as it is to leadership. The authentic thought leader provokes the next level of leadership and management thinking and focuses on changing the culture of an organization. A real thought leader is someone who brings another level of understanding as to what a company or corporation might be if they wanted to have a world class product/service, world class leaders, world class employees and world-class customers in a manner that actually changed the culture of the enterprise for the better, or just different to match such ideas. The next level of thinking outside of the company looks into what they could become and let the company make whatever adjustments it needs internally.

Real thought leadership is a human capacity with long-term perspective. It becomes the result of joining the dots in ways that explore 'what isn't' rather than jigging 'what is' and calling it change. Thought leadership by definition is transformative, even if it sometimes requires redefining the old in ways that make things new...simply changing the way we look at things can be thought leadership in action. Thought leaders are the people who can 'hold' a long view - like those who 'saw' and began projects that would make continuous improvement from one generation to the other generation. While most of the people are not thinking much beyond the 'now' in our current context of 'instant' everything.

As a verb thought leadership can best be offered as a state of mindThought leadership is the ability to assimilate knowledge, to think with knowledge, but transcends to the insight and wisdom. It is a disciplined mindset with the process that can innovate and extend knowledge. It's about exercising intelligence (both IQ & EQ), in the same way, that, for example, we can exercise our emotional and social intelligence. A healthy human brain seems predisposed towards exploration in whichever direction the individual is 'called' (science, entrepreneurship, arts, social justice etc). Thought Leaders are explorers. Thought leadership expands the boundaries or, at least, calls for the boundaries of current thinking to be challenged –in either macro or micro way.

Thought leadership is by nature evolutionary in that it must always be part of an ever-evolving flow. Thought Leadership is all about how we perceive, not just we see, and with which lenses we take, not just the eyes we 'look' - are we blinkered and therefore limited by conditioning and environmental constraints or are we free to roam our inner space and discover new territory that may lead to real world solutions. Thought Leadership will always precede behavioral change so our thinking is a vital space to explore and understand - the domain of imagination is an obvious place thought leaders play. Thought leaders are people, not companies. But very often an enterprise employs, encourages and embraces individual thought leaders, and thus earn recognition as a thought leadership company. Thought Leaders when employed correctly works wonders for corporate reputation and engagement.

Thought leadership is the treasure in management discipline, leaders cannot lead properly without it. Though leadership is intangible, but thought leadership is influential, the thought leaders are mostly visionary, trusted advisors, subject matter experts or futurists, and they are the change agent and transformational champions.


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