This parody doing the rounds is spot on:
It seems as though the disdain we had for self-proclaimed social media experts (#SMEGs) is transferring to so-called thought leaders. And rightly so. Everyone wants to be a thought leader these days.
And it’s just getting ridiculous.
In the race to be seen as thought leaders it seems that actually having any critical thinking is considered a hurdle. Instead, wanting the fast track, they substitute actual thinking with silly antics – Exhibit A: the rash of ‘thought leaders’ driving their cars and speaking to dash mounted camera. Making us all want to shout ‘watch the fucking road dickhead’.
Being in the agency business I’ve discussed content and digital strategy with enough companies to know that everyone wants to be considered a thought leader. And innovative. And cutting edge. And whatever other buzzword they can recall at the time.
We’ve had customers ask us to manage all their content strategy so they are seen as thought leaders.
The obvious question we ask: “Is anyone on your team exhibiting thought leadership?”
Their response: “No, that’s why we’re outsourcing our digital to you”.
This is real. Sadly, thought leaders often aren’t.