When I speak with organizations, I often ask a question: “who owns the thought leadership function here?” And I hear a variety of replies. In some cases, there’s a clear person who has “head of thought leadership” in their title—maybe a VP or director.
But I also hear two other types of replies that I classify as “fractional heads of thought leadership.” And that’s what I want to talk about today.
In the first case, someone with a different title has stepped up and assumed the head of thought leadership function—as part of their role—without taking on the head of thought leadership title. Thought leadership may be ten, twenty, or thirty percent of their overall role. Maybe the tasks have been written formally into their job description, but in most cases, they’ve simply stepped up. And that’s because they’re often very good at connecting across the organization, spotting good ideas, and helping to nurture them. Often, informal fractional heads of thought leadership stumble into the role.
The second type of head of thought leadership that I want to talk about is what I’d call the external fractional executive. Businesses of varying sizes have long-relied on fractional execs and officers to guide them through various stages of their business life cycle: for example a fractional CMO, CFO, or COO. The fractional Head of Thought Leadership allows an organization to bring in deep expertise around thought leadership strategy and execution—without making a full-time commitment.
Who is serving as the head of thought leadership at your organization? Does that person have it in their title? Or is it a fractional role?