“Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas”

Denise Brosseau

Thought leadership as a fad is illogical, however I understand why some might consider that sentiment today. The focus is justifiable as there is increased attention driven by industry wide interests and focus. I personally think this is a good development and it presents everyone an opportunity to share and drive change globally. Perhaps this is a movement that can be attributed to the plethora of platforms so readily available for the dissemination of ideas.

Who is a thought leader?

A thought leader is someone who challenges himself or herself mentally by bench pressing the inner recesses of their minds until patterns are formed or framed. Furthermore, thought leaders are those who allow ideas to stretch their minds, while being attentive and focused on their learnings. Thought leaders are developed by the repeated practice of entertaining thoughts without being defined by them.

Quotes on Thought Leadership

Here are some of my favorite quotes –

  • “Thought leaders do not become thought leaders by trying to be one; that’s an external focus that only satisfies the ego and blocks true enlightenment on any subject. A thought leader has a singular, internal focus on achieving mastery of a particular discipline.” – Sam Fiorella
  • “Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.” – Daniel Rasmus
  • “Thought Leadership is establishing a relationship with and delivering something of value to your stakeholders and customers that aligns with your brand/company value. In the process, you go well beyond merely selling a product or service and establish your brand /company as the expert in that field and differentiate yourself from your competitors.” – Thought Leaders International
  • “Thought leaders are brave; explore areas others don’t, raise questions others won’t, and provide insights others can’t.” – Craig Badings and Liz Alexander

I am aware that there are some who seek or are enthralled by the idea of being referred to as thought leaders but that shouldn’t be the goal. The focus should be on adding value and expanding people’s thinking capabilities. The real difference makers continue to focus on adding value within their sphere of influence, team, community or organization and rarely seek the designation. The interesting point here is those accolades are best bestowed by others.

If you want to become a thought leader, here are five steps to consider –

  1. Make a commitment to Think – To become a thought leader, you must think consistently and broadly. Make time to develop and nurture your thinking muscles. Be intentional about how, what, where and when you think and schedule thinking time.
  2. Think Outside Boundaries – Probably one of the toughest task to do on a daily basis but one that has the biggest return. Find the lines and explore the alternatives around those edges. This requires courage to confront what you don’t know but have accepted as truth. Thinking is the first step to disrupting the status quo and building your thinking muscles is a good way to explore disruption. So give yourself permission to think outside the box
  3. Explore Divergence – Nurture the ability to think in divergent directions by evaluating everything from at least one different point of view. To be effective at this, ask someone different from you for their opinion and viewpoint. This could be uncomfortable, embrace it and be patient.
  4. Question Everything – Develop the knack for asking pertinent questions, be curious and seek to understand. As a thought leader, you must be a perennial learner who filters concepts through the prism of your core values, perspective and belief systems.
  5. Embrace Chaos and Uncertainty – Seeking for control or normalcy is tricky and advise would be thought leaders to resist the urge to know or solve everything. Be okay with being uncomfortable as you seek to make sense of the issues around you and see these uncertainties as mile markers and not destinations.

Here’s my last word, as you journey remember it’s your perspective and voice that truly shapes the entire dialogue so relax a bit, and give yourself permission to see the beauty in the journey. I truly wish you well on this very worthwhile journey.
Go forth & prosper!



  • Dr. Flo

    Client Partner | Equity & Inclusion Strategist, Leadership, Career & Executive Coach.

    Korn Ferry

    Dr. Flo Falayi is a dynamic organizational leadership psychologist, Inclusion strategist, and executive coach. A well-respected thought leader with a diverse strategic approach to addressing complex, multifaceted leadership challenges. A YALE Scholar, Fellow of The Institute of Information Management, and the Founder of The Hybrid Leadership Institute (non-profit) focused on developing current and identifying next-generation global leaders and entrepreneurs. At Korn Ferry, Dr. Flo is focused on strategically supporting, enabling, and guiding organizations, leaders, and individuals to become better versions of themselves.