Rethinking Thought Leadership - An Overused Term

Emma Keates

“Thought leadership” is a buzzword that seems to be everywhere, yet genuine thought leadership is a rare gem in a sea of content. Let's take a step back: what truly defines a thought leader? Can any article that gets likes or sparks a conversation rightfully claim this esteemed title? I’ll tell you why the answer is a resounding no.

The term "Thought Leadership" is often tossed around carelessly. It's seen as the antithesis of traditional lead generation activities, leading to everything sensible but not directly labeled as 'lead gen' being categorized as 'thought leadership'. However, true thought leadership goes beyond merely putting content out there; it's a rare outcome achieved through the consistent sharing of profound expertise that illuminates new paths for others, whether in the broader world or within a specific industry.

You've likely encountered discussions about "thought leadership" and "thought leadership pieces," but my contention is that the term is used far too liberally. Genuine thought leadership is a rare achievement, far from something casually scheduled for a Tuesday morning with a couple of hours blocked out on the calendar.

Let's not even begin to equate effort with results; it's like declaring a medicine as a cure before it's had a chance to alleviate a headache. Without a tangible impact, even if the work possesses the potential to guide and inspire, it remains nothing more than another piece of content, an opinion, or perhaps even filler material.

True thought leadership is an anomaly. It emerges at the intersection of knowledge, foresight, and the ability to catalyze change in people's thoughts and actions. It involves offering insights that challenge conventions, delivering not only information but also actionable ideas that empower and inspire.

For tech marketers and CEOs, spotting the real deal is key. Content that truly deserves to be called thought leadership does more than just get attention. It makes an impact, changes minds, and sparks new ideas that leave a lasting impact and create change.

As we look to make a mark in the B2B tech scene, our goal should be to go deeper than surface level. Thought leaders should light the way forward, pushing towards innovation and issue resolve. It means committing to not just sharing what we know but also shaping the future with our insights AND actions.

Thought leadership isn’t a badge to pursue, but a responsibility. It’s about leading, inspiring, and driving real change. As tech industry leaders, let’s aim higher, aim for impact and use any space we get to do that. I want to live in a world where 'thought leadership' stands for: a powerful force for progress and innovation.

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