Just what does that mean, anyway?
I bring this up (as a diversion from tool reviews, to which we shall return shortly) in response to something said to me at my “day job.” The short version is they are pleased to be able to associate with my online self, seeing me as an HR Thought Leader that they can claim as one of theirs.
I’m not opposed to the flattery, of course, though I would never label myself as such. But it does make me wonder what, exactly, qualifies one for such a lofty title. From looking around, I see a few common traits to those who have been referred to with this tag:
Blogger. At least occasionally.
Speaker. On the schedule at events, or at least at one event. And if they make the list for one, they are not likely to let you forget any time real soon.
Writer. Or professing to be one. May overlap with blog.
Owner. Of business cards that they designed. Usually contains all of these words, plus web addresses for homepage, Facebook, Twitter, About.me, LinkedIn, and whatever new site is in vogue.
That seems about it. I exclude originality or relevance from these categories because there are far too many people who wear the mantle without really contributing to the education or advancement of our practice. There are those out there who simply rehash the same tired cliches or angst ridden diatribes over and again.
There are, of course, some actual thought leaders out there as well, and we should cherish them. But that only works if we push each other to do better. Thought leaders should lead. Or, at the very least, have thoughts.
It shouldn’t be easy to earn the title of thought leader. It should also not be given out freely, and revoked as needed.
Our community and our profession deserves it.