Thought Leader or Action Hero: Which Do You Prefer?

It was a Eureka moment for me the other day when I was chatting with a long-time communications and branding consultant who expressed annoyance at the term “thought leadership.”  Given that I use that term quite often during the day and sometimes at home (though my kids don’t know what I’m talking about so I’m no thought leader to them), I had to think about what he was really saying.  Which was: let’s stop thinking and start doing.  Thought leadership is surely important at every stage of the game. But we need leadership on the action front,  not just the thinking front.  Are we limiting ourselves and our definitions of our peers by just calling them “thought leaders”?

You, indeed, may be a “thought leader” – dispensing intelligence and ideas to your peers and direct reports – and that’s OK. But how do you take “thought leadership” to the next, necessary level: to getting it done and doing it well?  “Action Leadership” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, though I do like “Action Hero”.   You get my point.  So, next time you refer to someone as a “thought leader,” think to yourself – is he full of thoughts, full of action or full of sh*t….

Diane Schwartz