Being declared a thought leader sometimes involves a fair amount of subjectivity and analysis, especially because the criteria for becoming one isn’t always cut-and-dried. But when all is said and done, what thought leaders provoke is often even more important that what they say; and, what they demonstrate through the action they take in their respective industries is worth more than any explanation.
In 2013, the idea of thought leadership as a practice gelled into something to strive for, to tap into, and to become. According to Forbes, we’re quite a bit better at determining what a thought leader is not than what it means to really be one. Perhaps, but if nothing else, this last year allowed us to gain new insight into this evolving form of leadership.
The Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior
From Trust Across America:
“While there are many “top” lists and awards, none specifically address trustworthy business behavior — perhaps because the word “trust” presents a definitional challenge. For four years Trust Across America has been working with a growing team of experts to study, define and quantify trustworthy business. While our research is nowhere near complete, we know that an organization cannot be deemed trustworthy without a culture that embraces strong and stable financials, conservative accounting, corporate integrity, transparency, sustainability and long-term reputation preservation.
During the course of our research, we have met with and spoken to hundreds of thought leaders, across a variety of professional disciplines who, when their efforts are combined, help create trustworthy organizations. As our understanding of trust deepens, so does our pool of exceptional candidates.”
Our take: Thought leadership may mean many things to many different people, and it’s tempting to give the title to anyone with a notable amount of expertise in their field. But one thing is for certain: trust and respect are earned, not given at random, and thought leaders being recognized in this arena are critical to transparency, collaboration, and overall success.
10X13: Ten Interviews with Thought Leaders in 2013
“In March 2013, over 700 cleantech investors, sustainability professionals, startups, and international delegates gathered at Cleantech Forum in San Francisco to discuss the critical global energy and resources challenges that we face today and the ways technology can promote resiliency and efficiency in the built environment.
We handpicked ten interviewees from the diverse set of speakers and panelists, who are leaders in their respective industries, and brought them backstage to explore their perspectives in more detail. 10X13 looks at innovation across a range of industries including commercial property management, consumer resource sharing, transportation and future mobility services, government, telecom, and utility-scale solar.”
Our take: There is always something to learn from other people’s — and business’s — successes and failures. Global sustainability, health, environment, and growth issues affect us all, and working together towards smarter, cleaner technology will pave the way for future innovations.
2013 Review: The Best in Thought Leadership
From the Holmes Report:
“Transparency, authenticity and purpose were recurring themes in a bumper crop of research studies that added to the body of knowledge about brand, reputation and engagement in 2013.
All three topics can be traced — at least in part — to the increasing role of social media in shaping stakeholder relationships. The use of digital and social channels by consumers has increased corporate transparency (a trend researchers suggest organizations should embrace rather than resist); raised expectations when it comes to authenticity; and led to greater scrutiny of organizational purpose that goes beyond creating good products and delivering good profits.
While too much of the research commissioned by PR firms continues to rely on consumers’ self-reported behavior (the number who say they care about CSR may not reflect the number who either know enough about the topic or actually take it into account when they make purchasing decisions), the cumulative impact of all this new knowledge is to add to a growing body of evidence that suggests a critical role of public relations in guiding not only corporate communications but also corporate behavior.”
Our take: The 12 articles that follow this comprehensive intro cover critical topics like transparency, leadership communications, and social impact. A must-read for anyone seeking to align their expertise with branding and refine their position as industry influencers.