In Other News: Jumping the Shark has Jumped the Shark

  • June 23, 2011
  • Scott

Steve Golab of FG Squared writes in the Austin Business Journal:

I hate to break it to you. The phrase “thought leadership” has jumped the shark. A social media Web tsunami has spun out over the past decade and made it easier for everybody to claim an area of thought leadership.

Maybe thought leadership is overused. But so is “jumped the shark”.  Steve’s premise is that people who are really good at what they do spend more time doing and less time talking about what they’re doing.  He has a point:

Coming up with brilliant ideas, launching innovative products, developing great new approaches to problems is indeed thought leadership. Combining your assets together in a different way to create new value is indeed thought leadership.

Merely talking about your ideas — typically reinforced by speaking at events or getting coverage in the press — is not.

Inside your organization, communication and leadership can be done while doing – in other words, you can lead by example.  And people in your organization will be aware of it, and they’ll talk to you and understand your way of thinking.  If you’re a “thought leader” they’re going to be influenced by your thinking.

But if you want to influence people outside your organization you have to transition to writing or social media that can reach people outside your organization.  I think the point Steve is missing is that to be a “thought leader” you need to excel at both doing and communicating.  All the brilliant ideas in your head don’t lead and don’t communicate by themselves.  On the other hand, pure communication skills alone won’t cut it.  You have to be deep in your area of expertise.

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