Thought leadership by definition is transformative, even if it sometimes requires redefining the old in ways that make things new; thinking out of the box, as well as shaping in a bigger box of thinking to lead transformative changes.
Innovative thought leaders are explorers: They can make big differences by exploring who they are, who they want to be, why they want to lead, as well as how they can lead and do things differently. While most of the people are not thinking much beyond the “now” in the current context of instant everything. Thought Leadership expands the boundaries, calls for the boundaries of current thinking to be challenged in either macro or micro way, explore the art of possible by continuous learning, brainstorming and innovating.
On the one hand, the boundary is a space for learning, an opportunity to examine one’s own thoughts, beliefs, and actions. On the other hand, many come to believe that boundaries are not tangible places of resistance but are self-imposed limitations people place on ourselves to hide our own fear to move forward. Thus, thought leaders are in demand to inspire changes, encourage innovation, and become change agents for reinventing their organization and our society.
Thought leaders are often challenging conventional thinking and current best practices, whether it is a process, a methodology, a practice, a system, a philosophy, etc: The majority of organizations get stuck at the lower level of business maturity, and suffer from change inertia, complacency, communication or process friction. A real thought leader is someone who brings another level of understanding as to what a corporation or society might be if they can deprogram old mindset, break down the outdated customs or traditions, reprogramming collective minds with new values, norms, and attitudes, and keep their creative energy flowing frictionlessly.
The practices that are “best” today are almost always not “best” in the future since practices, as the pace of change is increasing, technologies and markets, are constantly morphing under pressure. Thought leaders are not only world class leaders themselves, but they also can attract more world class leaders, world class employees, world-class customers, in a manner that actually changes the philosophy, processes, practices, culture of the organization or society for the collective progress.
Thought Leadership is by nature evolutionary and transformative in that it must always be part of an ever-evolving idea flow: Thought leaders have cognitive ability to assimilate knowledge, to think with knowledge, but transcends static knowledge to fresh insight and ultimate wisdom. Thought leaders are the people who can ‘hold’ a long view – like those who ‘saw’ and began transformative initiatives that would make continuous improvement from one generation to the other generation.
Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. Though leaders are based on vision, to connect the dots into the future for leading transformational changes evolutionarily. It takes a lot of brainstorming and energy to re-focus, kick start or “game-change.” Transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a defined different capability to accomplish a defined goal. Great leaders can empathetically let people know that they are part of something bigger than just keeping the trains running on time; they inspire people to take calculated risks for leading transformational changes and motivate them to get out of their comfort zone, make continuous improvement individually or collectively.
Thought Leadership can be best offered as a state of mind with fresh insight and abundant creativity. Organizations need to reinvent themselves, change to the fundamental business model, culture, or other critical business factors for reaching the next level of growth and maturity. Thought leaders with transdisciplinary knowledge, cross-domain experience, and leadership skills are in strong demand to build the foundation of the moral competencies –wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance, and navigate organizations or the society as a whole in the right directions, to make leapfrog changes.