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Thought Leaders

Posted by admin on May 28, 2013

Are YOU one of them?

The term, 'Thought Leadership' was supposedly coined in 1994 by Joel Kurzman, editor of the US-based magazine, Strategy and Business. He used it in an article to describe the work of business leaders who had ideas that were noteworthy. Nearly 20 years on, 'Thought Leaders' have a somewhat rarified and elevated position in the business world, but no one really knows who these people are, beyond perhaps the blindingly obvious.  Could you list 10 Thought Leaders you admire? Search Google for the term and you will be face with about 277,000,000 results so the notion of Thought Leadership has clearly caught on!

But how can YOU become a Thought Leader and what would that look like if you were?


At Impronta, we like to refer to Robert E. Kelley's The Power of Followship. Kelley's theory is summarised as follows:  "When it comes to performance in any entity, 90% of measurable KPI results come from the followers and only 10% from the leaders."

It follows that where Thought Leadership is concerned, executives can be sure that it is about recognition, empowerment and engagement of their team rather than simply growing the figures or using a directional, commanding style of leadership that counts.Thought Leadership is a mental attitude; not a piece of knowledge you pick up at Business School. Achieving the right attitude and behaviours for Thought Leadership is about being mindful of your followers and using Daniel Goleman's rightly lauded - by the Harvard Business School and many, many successful organisations worldwide -  Emotional Intelligent Leadership styles. 

Emotional Intelligence is a term bandied about freely these days, but there is still a lack of understanding about how it works. Here is a brief reminder of the principles.

Goleman separated and decribed six different leadership styles. The order of these leadership styles is deliberate. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) undertook several studies on Fortune 500 companies, comparing leadership style to achievement of values, vision and KPIs as published. The following ranking is attributable to their work. The first two are leadership behaviours that gain results and aid recruitment and retention. The last two should be used sparingly as they are unsustainable, only to be used in a crisis, for turnaround, or where the regulatory environment is being breached

  • Visionary/Authoritative
  • Coaching
  • Democratic
  • Affiliative
  • Pacesetting
  • Coercive

Think then, about your own mental attitudes that would indicate strong Emotional Intelligence and Thought Leadership. Ask yourself the following: 

1.The project you have just completed. How far did you engage your team and join in?

2. If your team members came to you with the following questions, how far could you answer them clearly, with belief and with authenticity>

-       Why am I here?
-       What are our values?
-       What is our vision?
-       What is our mission strategy?
-       What are my roles and responsibilities?
-       What does this mean for me?
-       Where is my contribution and what incentives are there for me in development and
        going the extra mile?
-       How am I doing? Will you give me constructive feedback, which is measured against team
        and individual performance?
-       Will you manage me in a way that maximises my motivation and performance

The critical question for a Thought Leader to address is ‘Why should anyone follow you?’

Impronta's 'Intelligent Leadership' model

We at Impronta have defined Thought Leadership for Executive Coaching as ‘Intelligent Leadership', that is, leadership that is adapted to the environment/culture in which people work. We use Emotional Intelligent approaches throughout. Our Executive Coaching and Workshop programmes include:

  • Visionary Intelligence
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Physical Intelligence
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Commercial Intelligence
  • Ethical Intelligence

Do check out this flexible model and contact us about arranging a trial coaching session for one of your executives or a short Workshop on the area that matters most to your organisation.

Become the Thought Leaders you deserve to be!



 Simon Laws and Edwina Biucchi, Impronta (info@impronta.co.uk)