Some Thoughts on Thought Leadership

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Don Goodenow
Director, Product Management, Reinsurance & Collections

Ara Trembly, a respected member of the insurance technology fraternity, wrote an interesting blog post on this subject a while back. It got me thinking about just what the heck Thought Leadership is. Is it “Inspired Strategy or Tired Buzzword,” as he asks, or is it something else?

My own opinion is that it is more than and different from either. To me, thought leadership is about ideas, and the willingness to offer up new ones when they might seem strange or against conventional wisdom. Anything else is “paving the cowpath.” Not just any ideas, but ideas that make a difference in how people look at things that matter to them.

After mulling it a bit, I used my trusty search engine to see what the web might offer. I found a site that I think makes some good sense of the subject. The site is authored by Mitch McCrimmin, Ph.D., a professor and business consultant. I think the good doctor has captured the essence of what thought leadership is and has written articles and a book on the subject (Burn! Leadership Myths in Flames).

Dr. McCrimmin says: “You made a unique contribution to the content of the debate. That is thought leadership,” and “Where innovation rules, it is the power to convince people to change direction with a better idea.” Right on.

Why is this important? Again, I think Dr. M. nails it. He says “Thought Leadership is the critical form of leadership in knowledge-driven organizations, the successor to positional leadership necessary for prosperity wherever innovation is critical to success.”

Ara, the good doctor, and I have our thoughts on the subject. What do you think?

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Thought leadership, like all

Thought leadership, like all leadership, is based on having the courage to advance ideas that may or may not be mainstream or popular. I like the "paving the cowpath" analogy. Alternate theory or philosophy is the driver of innovation, ergo "thought leadership".