Breakthroughs, Inspiration for Change, Kathy Caprino, Leadership What Is Powerfully Positive Thought Leadership To You? Written by: Kathy Caprino


I’m active on LinkedIn group discussions, and I find that sharing ideas, dialogue and conversation there is a powerfully enriching experience because of the diversity of thought that LinkedIn members offer. With 330+ million members, LinkedIn gives us all a global worldview that opens our eyes, minds and hearts to different ways to understand the world and our lives.

Just today, an individual asked a question in one of my discussions that made me stop in my tracks.  He asked, “What IS thought leadership?”

The term “thought leadership” is bantered around a million times a day online, but do we all know what we mean by it? I’ve been honored and thrilled to highlight the work of what I believe are top thought leaders in our world today, through my various blogs on Forbes, Huffington Post, LinkedIn, and this blog.  But I realized this morning that I’ve never sat down and actually defined for myself what I believe great “thought leadership” is, and what I see as the highest form of it.  So I took a stab.

Here’s my definition of the highest version of a thought leader:

“Thought leaders are informed opinion leaders and go-to experts in their field of expertise. Their perspectives, work and ideas move the understanding, implications and applications of their topic forward. They are trusted sources who — with integrity, authenticity and passion — move, educate, enliven and inspire people with innovative ideas that motivate positive change.  They help turn ideas into reality, and have done the work to develop a teachable point of view that shares with others how to replicate their success. They are motivated not by being “right” but by helping and being of service.”

I believe that the best thought leaders also possess the 9 core traits of people who positively impact the world:

But I’m interested in your interpretations and definitions of a thought leader.  How would you describe the best of the best thought leaders in the world? What do they do, inspire, and create for us? How do they impact the world in a positive way?

Please share your definitions below!

I know that putting a stake in the ground and defining the best thought leadership helps me create a vision for what I want to strive to offer and become. How about you?

(For more about developing your own authentic thought leadership, visit my new coaching program Build Your Authentic Thought Leadership.)

2 thoughts on “What Is Powerfully Positive Thought Leadership To You?”

  1. I would add: They are confident (not arrogant) in their own knowledge. They have pursued their expertise beyond mere mastery to true innovation. They are humble because on their path to mastery they have learned that 1. they don’t know what they don’t know 2. the more they know the more they understand how little they know.

  2. Kathy,

    Great, thought-provoking, BIG question. I concur with Jennifer Kenny’s remarks as well.

    Thought leaders, to me, are individuals who can express clarity in situations where there is little. In our roles as parents, partners, and professionals, we strive for confidence and certainty, so we can act, and helps others act with conviction. Trepidation, overwhelm and anxiety are highest when clarity is lowest. Thought leaders provide that uncanny and precious ability to see clearly – and help us do so as well – and offer sound thinking, and simple recommendations when confronted by the fog of uncertainty.

    Earning the rarified title of ‘thought leader’ is frequently the result of long and varied experience. A scant few are unusually gifted. By my reading, most get there through much experience, deep reflection and purposeful study.

    I hope that you get much thoughtful input – and share it – as our success pivots on clear thinking and sound actions in a world where things are changing quickly with seemingly little precedent.

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