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Thought Leaders, Are Rarely People Leaders

Thinking isn’t results. Why would anyone want to be known as a “thought leader” – for thinking? Thinkers are rarely leaders, so why do we use that term to identify people we believe are leading? There is a better term. Thinking is really important in the process of doing.

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Thinking isn’t results.

Why would anyone want to be known as a “thought leader” – for thinking? Thinkers are rarely leaders, so why do we use that term to identify people we believe are leading? There is a better term.

I’m not against thinking, I’m against elevating it to the highest status and the object of our affection. It’s not the lead actor – it has a supporting role in getting results.

Thinking is really important in the process of doing. As I’m moving forward, if I’m not thinking about all the feedback I’m getting I will just run into brick wall after brick wall. But the objective of thinking should be to create a result – to transform something.

So it makes no sense to me to call people “thought leaders” as if they are actually creating change. To call someone a “thought leader” is to focus on the process instead of the result.

Why do we celebrate thinking over results? I believe it’s because cognition, or thinking, has gained an inappropriately high status in our culture. The academics have taught us to assume that thinking is the result, not just one step in the process of getting a result.

Is this just semantics? No – there is a significant difference.

A thought leader is someone who has an idea. A results leader is someone who has changed something.

Thought leaders are educational. Results leaders are transformational.

Results leaders make history. Thought leaders write about them later.

We don’t think our way to a new way of acting. We act our way to a new way of thinking.

It is the act of acting that changes us, not the act of thinking. Nobody learns to ride a bike by reading books.

Einstein also believed we have given cognition too much credit. He said “rational thought” is the “servant of intuition”, but that we have “created a society that worships the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Cognition is simply one of the servants of getting results, and as such we should be focused on the higher value of results, not on thinking.

Many people we identify as “thought leaders” are really “results leaders”. We need to give them their just recognition and relegate thinking back to it’s appropriate role as a SERVANT of the result, not the object of our affection.

Let’s celebrate and promote “results leaders”. Thinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

What do you “think”?

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