Leadership Management

What Should You Look for in a Thought Leader?

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A little inspiration from time to time can help us all. But inspiration rarely comes in a vacuum. Often, the best source of it is finding figures you can relate to, and reading into how they overcame challenges, as well as what insights they gleaned from it.

For instance, reading about the first women to commit to amazing changes in our culture, be that the first woman aviator or the first female astronaut can help you gain a newfound respect for those who struggle, even when the rest of society might be actively rooting against them.

However, it’s unfortunately the case that inspiration and thought leadership has become an absolute brand, especially online. Social media huxters looking to make a quick buck are very keen to give you ‘all the answers’ should you sign up for their treatment and purchase their materials. Sometimes, this can work, but sometimes, it rings hollow.

Do you really need anyone other than yourself to be inspired? Sometimes, yes, you might. But it’s important to get that information from reliable, intrepid sources, rather than those who simply talk a nice game. How do you differentiate those? Let’s consider that below:


What kind of credentials do they have? Are they equipped to be giving you advice? Not that a thought leader doesn’t have to have the most incredible credentials or academic history in business in order to have something worthwhile to say. Sometimes, if you’re opening a textiles shop in an area, it’s good to speak to those who may have been successful in your city before now, even if their enterprise is hardly global or a household name. You consider what experience you deem to be relevant.

Visionary Thinking

Visionary thinking, such as that proposed by Dee Agarwal, is essential if we’re to overcome the challenges of the future while also defining the scope of how we’d like to see our industry proceed. Visionary thinking is much more than making predictions, or saying how things ‘should be,’ but instead curating an image of an ideal, and understanding how to steer the ocean-liner momentum of business and industry in that direction, while also paying attention to the minute effects of that.

Willing to Embrace Hard Facts

Not all elements of an industry or business at large are rosy. Sometimes they’re tough, and there are hard questions that must be asked. Sometimes, thought leaders, or at least those who have branded themselves that way, can conveniently ignore those tough facts (like how difficult training staff can be, or the upfront investment necessary in going alone as an entrepreneur) in order to get you on the hook and showcase just how easy ‘their method’ can make things. Conveniently, this easy method is almost always hidden behind a paywall. Thought leaders willing to honestly grapple with tough questions shows they’re not there to sell you an ideal, but to strengthen you for the future. Those people are worth paying attention to.

With this advice, you’re sure to find the best thought leaders to follow, emulate, and perhaps one day, to inspire your own leadership.

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