“Thought Leadership”

In the technology field, one of the more annoying current expressions is “thought leadership” and “thought leaders.” Let’s set aside for now the words themselves, which when paired are nonsensical, and let us ask what makes someone a “thought leader?”  In most cases, it is nothing more than personal success (name recognition) or affiliation with a large organization.  There is a completely erroneous belief that because an individual has achieved public awareness, success or fame, he is uniquely qualified to pontificate on a particular subject and that his particular opinion is better than someone else’s.  Let us consider possible reasons why a woman or man is pushed into the public light and their ideas become known.  Assuming a set of people who are all by some measure intelligent, some of them will be thrust into the spotlight due to one or more of the following:

  1. Shameless self-promoter
  2. Lucky
  3. Well connected only
  4. Original thinkers

No single “thought leader” on the planet wants to think they are numbers 1, 2, or 3.  However, consider that most of those who fall in category 4 are rarely recognized as such in their lifetimes.  We ought to be skeptical of “thought leaders.” More often than not, what they promulgate are inconsequential fads.  Their ideas and thoughts will disappear and in many cases be laughed at in the following decade.


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