Lessons on Thought Leadership

We’re going into the second day of my annual Thought Leadership Conference in Florida. Margaret Wheatley is our guest tomorrow, following Marshall Goldsmith and David Maister in prior years. Next year, Dan Pink has already committed.

Some lessons from the first day:

• You’re not a thought leader until others proclaim you as such.

• You can take the position that there’s “nothing new under the sun” and be cynical, or you can adapt ideas for key, changing variables in the economy, technology, demographics, and social mores.

• You need to tell people what will help them, not strive to achieve consensus. You need to be prescriptive, not solely diagnostic. Thought leaders evolve and change their minds.

• You must be edgy, provocative, controversial, even contrarian whenever possible. You have to stand out in a crowd, not disappear within it.

• Focus and discipline are essential. “To do” lists are meaningless. Schedule what you need to produce and create, and get it done.

• There is no pride (nor great reward) in being a “best kept secret.”

• Thought leaders create works: books, videos, audio, teleconferences, workshops, speeches, and experiences. The “thought” has to be manifest in terms of pragmatic improvement for others.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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