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Thought Leaders
I’ve mentioned some of the great things that I heard at BlogOn  last week in New York. This was a place that was chock full of thought leaders. Keynote addresses were offered up by Seth Godin, “bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change” and David Weinberger, author of the and co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto  – the End of Business as Usual.  They served up some excellent insights into social media and how the internet is shaping up to provide much of the promise that we heard about in the past decade.

Their creativiy, vision and unparalelled zeal prompted me to think about their message in the context of Leadership.  While leadership has many definitions, one that is certainly accepted by everyone is "to provide guidance or direction."  While I did not perhaps agree with everything these guys said, I had to acknowledge their vision and passion for their vision. And from their perspective, I doubt it was important for me to agree with them. Thought leadership challenges, prods, instigates. It encourages contribution and thrives on differing perspectives.

Speaking of thriving on contribution, Wikipaedia defines a "thought leader" as a person who is recognized among his or her peers for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote those ideas. Thought leadership for most companies is defined as innovation. You can distinguish your organization by treating customers differently (see JetBlue) or thinking about a a market or product differently (see Apple). These companies are market leaders because they were first thought leaders.

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Leadership occurs at all levels within the enterprise. Not just amongst well-branded externally linked individuals...

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