McBride for Business Blog

Thought Leadership: What Does This Mean and Why Do I Care?

January 26, 2017 // R. Shawn McBride // No Comments »

If you follow blogs, articles and other materials from a lot of different people, you’ll start seeing the word “thought leader” floated a lot. What does this mean? Why is this important to you?

Wikipedia recognizes a thought leader as quote “A thought leader can refer to an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is thought and often rewarded.”

Wikipedia traces the first use of this back in 1887. Today, with the changing media and the growing social media and Internet phenomenon, many people are vying to be a thought leader and this phrase keeps coming up a lot. People want to be a thought leader because they want to be a go-to authority. This obviously brings with it credibility, the ability to be quoted and the ability to influence discussion. From this often flows monetary rewards.

As your name gets more recognized, you might be invited to author certain materials (whether they are books or articles), you might also get speaking opportunities, appearance fees or other amounts for being a thought leader.

A lot of people want to be a thought leader. How do you become a thought leader? Well, the paths to being a thought leader are greatly varied, especially today.

We’re living in an age of decentralized media. The central authorities, the major broadcasters (Fox, CBS, CNN, NBC), are not having the authority that they used to have. They don’t control all of the discussion. The Internet is allowing people to go through other means, whether they be blogs, webcasts, video chats or YouTube videos. There are so many channels, now where people can be seen.

The key these days to being a thought leader seems to be expressing thoughts in a particular area and building a following. It doesn’t seem to matter as much which medium you’re picking. The key seems to be to be a great thinker and to allow your tribe to build around you, to allow people to find you, to be specialized in a particular area. This is wonderful news for perspective thought leaders.

While the field is getting crowded and there’s a lot of people out there vying to be thought leaders, any one person can possibly become a thought leader by picking a medium of their choice, staying true to their message, learning, growing and building a following.

This truly is a unique time. We talk in The Three Laws of Empowerment ( about preparing yourself, and this is one of those areas where somebody can prepare, build a plan and become a thought leader. It’s truly an empowering time.


What are your thoughts on thought leadership? What’s been your experience? Have you followed any particular thought leaders? Do you have dreams of being a thought leader? Join us in the comments below.

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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances.  Each case is unique.  Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Christopher Bruno.


About the Author

Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment ( ), gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at or (214) 418-0258.


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Posted In: Business, Empowerment, Growth, Speaking, Strategy

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