Don't you love the title Thought Leader? Perhaps not. I am not even sure how it actually came to be, nor do I really care at this point. It seems to me that it sounds a little like the old adage - "Those who can't do - teach." I have spent a great deal of time listening and reading what thought leaders have to say. I think it is important to study the industry where you reside and to know the key players, as well as understand what success looks like.

What does success in the HR or Recruiting Industry look like? Is it when your blog is read or tweeted by hundreds? Is it when you get asked to speak at a conference? It is when you write a book? Is it when you make your 500th placement? Is it when you and your business survive a downturn? Is it when a client calls you back? Is it when you make a great placement? Is it when your business grows continually? Is it when somebody buys your blog? (By the way, Jerry Albright's is for sale - it's best if your name is Jerry or maybe you just like the name Jerry - www.JerrytheRecruiter.com) Is it when you make the latest Best or Most List that is based on a specific algorithm that nobody really understands?

Is it when you're client/hiring manager is content and calls you for the next requisition? Is it when your candidate is happy? Is it when YOU are satisfied with your work and the outcomes you are able to produce? Maybe you just want to think and write about the industry and are not worried about producing anything. Is that a Thought Leader? Or is a Thought Leader's product inspiration or motivation?

I sat next to Jason Davis at TRULondon last week just briefly between sessions and an announcement was made that sounded a lot like Jason had been deemed a Thought Leader in the recruiting industry. Jason leaned over to me and said, "I don't want to be a Thought Leader or even thought of as a Thought Leader..." I have never thought of Jason as a Thought Leader. He is a worker bee, he is a Doer. He doesn't sit back and count awards or money. He doesn't rely on anyone else to do the job he needs to do. He is constantly evolving, looking for the newer, better way, chasing after the next big idea, putting that idea into action and surrounding himself with incredible people.

What exactly would the job description of a Thought Leader look like? Umm..., Think deep thoughts? Inspire thought in others? Have a Doctorate in Thinkology? Are you more inspired by someone who thinks or someone who does? What do you want to be when you grow up? Are statues built of Thought Leaders? Perhaps, but guess who built them?  Now you get the picture.

by rayannethorn

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I love this discussion. Great post. Not just for the perspective, but also for the buzz you created. Thanks for DOING this, AND I think you might be a THOUGHT LEADER :-)
I can't wait until "Thought Leader" starts showing up on business cards and resumes.

2008 to 2010 THOUGHT LEADER - Responsible for thinking up shit that nobody had thought up before then convincing someone else that it was worth spending money to do. Terminated Jan 2010 due to the shit i thought up not being wuf a shit.
Woooo Sandra, I did not think Thought Leaders could have this kind of effect on someone... I don't get what it is that disgust you so much about folks who set trends they don't come in spades ....

Sandra McCartt said:
I can't wait until "Thought Leader" starts showing up on business cards and resumes.
2008 to 2010 THOUGHT LEADER - Responsible for thinking up shit that nobody had thought up before then convincing someone else that it was worth spending money to do. Terminated Jan 2010 due to the shit i thought up not being wuf a shit.
Paul - I don't think the issue is so much that people can't stand someone who sets trends.

I think there is a disdain for the term "Thought Leader" in and of itself.

Obviously, no one is going to argue the people at Apple or Einstein are not great minds that have set incredible trends. But I think the underlying problem is that by terming them "Thought Leaders", you are deeming them "Leaders of thought" - as opposed to "Leaders of technology" or "Leaders of science".

In every case you (Paul) mentioned of why we should respect "Thought Leaders" (your term, not mine), there is a subsequent "Doing" that must accompany their "thought" in order to create said trends.

There is not an either/or with "Thought" and "Doing": what makes these folks admirable is their ability to combine the two. Again: It's a fundamental disagreement with the use of the term "Thought Leader".

Like I said before, I think it ultimately short-changes people who ought to be considered "Innovators".
Sean you make some good points but alot of what makes Einstein and say Stephen Hawkins so great is their Thinking ( Only a few Mathematicians can "Think " at Stephen Hawkins level - he has come up with some amazing new discoveries on Black Holes through "Thought" ) and now we can get really technical and say that the act of Thinking is "Doing". But that is for another topic.

I think it fair to say that they are really only a few people that can be actually labeled a "Thought Leader". I guess I am one of those folks who see nothing wrong with the term set aside for only the masters regardless of field in my book .... I also need to emphasis that you have doers and thinkers that can be both innovators...

Sean Ryan said:
Paul - I don't think the issue is so much that people can't stand someone who sets trends.

I think there is a disdain for the term "Thought Leader" in and of itself.

Obviously, no one is going to argue the people at Apple or Einstein are not great minds that have set incredible trends. But I think the underlying problem is that by terming them "Thought Leaders", you are deeming them "Leaders of thought" - as opposed to "Leaders of technology" or "Leaders of science".

In every case you (Paul) mentioned of why we should respect "Thought Leaders" (your term, not mine), there is a subsequent "Doing" that must accompany their "thought" in order to create said trends.

There is not an either/or with "Thought" and "Doing": what makes these folks admirable is their ability to combine the two. Again: It's a fundamental disagreement with the use of the term "Thought Leader".

Like I said before, I think it ultimately short-changes people who ought to be considered "Innovators".
that was supposed to be sarcastically funny Paul. I have been watching buzz words come and go in this industry for over three decades.

I am not disgusted by people who have creative ideas or set trends. I simply find the latest crop of buzz words to be more preposterous than the last. The trend seems to be that we have some burning need to come up with high blown terms to describe what smart people have been doing forever and somehow seem to think that annointing someone with a trendy title means something. In my book it's right up there with calling a stay at home mom a "director of domestic control".

Think about it. Would you put the title on a business card or a resume. When someone asks you what you do for a living would you say, "I am a thought leader".

The biggest blow back i get about recruiters is that they are so full of themselves with all the titles and phony baloney they posture about that they become cartoon characters. Buzz words..that's all. As Rayanne sez...

AARRRGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOL Sandra you are funny .... No it would be hard for me to take anyone that gave me a business card with the title "Thought Leader" on it .... I totally agree with you there ... Infact if you look at it "Thought Leaders" seldom self title themselves that way ... I totally agree with you....

In the same way there are a ton of folks calling themselves Technical Architects who are really still developers ...

Cheers...

Sandra McCartt said:
that was supposed to be sarcastically funny Paul. I have been watching buzz words come and go in this industry for over three decades.

I am not disgusted by people who have creative ideas or set trends. I simply find the latest crop of buzz words to be more preposterous than the last. The trend seems to be that we have some burning need to come up with high blown terms to describe what smart people have been doing forever and somehow seem to think that annointing someone with a trendy title means something. In my book it's right up there with calling a stay at home mom a "director of domestic control".

Think about it. Would you put the title on a business card or a resume. When someone asks you what you do for a living would you say, "I am a thought leader".

The biggest blow back i get about recruiters is that they are so full of themselves with all the titles and phony baloney they posture about that they become cartoon characters. Buzz words..that's all. As Rayanne sez...

AARRRGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love this idea - Thought Leader Radio - The Weekly Thought Leader, Thought Leader.com, Thoughts of a Thought Leader, I Once was a Teenage Thought Leader, Teenage Ninja Mutant Thought Leaders, The Thought Leaders Red Book etc etc ..please add

Oh joy the opportunities are endless...sorry in days in bed with flu in cold Britain and I wake up and the world looks the same.

BUT great debate... I have meet so many thought leaders who hate the term but "boy they know their stuff" maybe in an industry like Recruit and HR that feels unloved and undervalued we need to "create thought leaders to elevate all of us"....or I am just cynical.

Keith

Sandra McCartt said:
I can't wait until "Thought Leader" starts showing up on business cards and resumes.

2008 to 2010 THOUGHT LEADER - Responsible for thinking up shit that nobody had thought up before then convincing someone else that it was worth spending money to do. Terminated Jan 2010 due to the shit i thought up not being wuf a shit.
maybe we should all take the afternoon off and give this some thought.

Keith Robinson said:
I love this idea - Thought Leader Radio - The Weekly Thought Leader, Thought Leader.com, Thoughts of a Thought Leader, I Once was a Teenage Thought Leader, Teenage Ninja Mutant Thought Leaders, The Thought Leaders Red Book etc etc ..please add

Oh joy the opportunities are endless...sorry in days in bed with flu in cold Britain and I wake up and the world looks the same.

BUT great debate... I have meet so many thought leaders who hate the term but "boy they know their stuff" maybe in an industry like Recruit and HR that feels unloved and undervalued we need to "create thought leaders to elevate all of us"....or I am just cynical.

Keith

Sandra McCartt said:
I can't wait until "Thought Leader" starts showing up on business cards and resumes.

2008 to 2010 THOUGHT LEADER - Responsible for thinking up shit that nobody had thought up before then convincing someone else that it was worth spending money to do. Terminated Jan 2010 due to the shit i thought up not being wuf a shit.
I for one do not feel unloved and undervalued. Geez if you want to be loved and valued be a social worker or a priest or train puppies. It is perhaps the need for elevation that is the root cause of all these junky, high blown titles.
I am going to have to think about your suggestion to take the afternoon off and give this some thought. If i agree with you does that make me a decision maker or would you be a thought leader about thinking and i become a follower. Love it , love it , love it.

Slouch said:
maybe we should all take the afternoon off and give this some thought.

Keith Robinson said:
I love this idea - Thought Leader Radio - The Weekly Thought Leader, Thought Leader.com, Thoughts of a Thought Leader, I Once was a Teenage Thought Leader, Teenage Ninja Mutant Thought Leaders, The Thought Leaders Red Book etc etc ..please add

Oh joy the opportunities are endless...sorry in days in bed with flu in cold Britain and I wake up and the world looks the same.

BUT great debate... I have meet so many thought leaders who hate the term but "boy they know their stuff" maybe in an industry like Recruit and HR that feels unloved and undervalued we need to "create thought leaders to elevate all of us"....or I am just cynical.

Keith

Sandra McCartt said:
I can't wait until "Thought Leader" starts showing up on business cards and resumes.

2008 to 2010 THOUGHT LEADER - Responsible for thinking up shit that nobody had thought up before then convincing someone else that it was worth spending money to do. Terminated Jan 2010 due to the shit i thought up not being wuf a shit.
Sandra I agree with you re need for elevation....my apologies if I offended you but having worked within the broad HR areana (I founded one of the UK's leading HR magazines) I do believe that historically HR and Recruitment have not always been respected. I think in the UK in recent years this has changed.

In the US organisations like SHRM do a great job.

Sandra McCartt said:
I for one do not feel unloved and undervalued. Geez if you want to be loved and valued be a social worker or a priest or train puppies. It is perhaps the need for elevation that is the root cause of all these junky, high blown titles.

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