Three Questions When Someone Announces They are a Thought Leader

When someone announces that they are a thought leader — three questions *immediately* pop into my head:

❓”To whom?”
❓”For what topic?”
❓”When?”

Because thought leadership is *incredibly* relative and situational.

Context matters. Let me explain.

Imagine a Fortune 500 CEO and a ten-year-old child.

Both have a difficult choice to make.
Let’s say it’s about leadership.
It’s keeping them up at night.
They don’t know what to do.
So, they seek out someone they trust.

The CEO turns to a world-class expert on leadership who they’ve hired as their executive coach.

The ten-year-old turns to the smartest person they know–their beloved soccer coach ⚽.

In that moment, both the CEO and the ten-year-old child are seeking and receiving thought leadership insights on leadership.

Both the executive coach and the soccer coach are thought leaders — in that moment on that question.

Because thought leadership is situational and contextual.

I’m not going to say one is “better” than the other.

However, here’s the catch — and it’s a big one.

Being a “thought leader” isn’t a badge you earn once and get to wear for the rest of your life.

It’s not a trophy or a scout’s merit badge.

Thought leadership is something you must practice constantly and earn in *each* situation.

❓”To whom?”
❓”For what topic?”
❓”When?”

If you’re unable to provide specificity to these questions, then your claim of being a thought leader is deeply incomplete.

That’s part of what it means to be a thought leader.


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