It was Napoleon who said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
I’m not sure how to say “thought leader” in French (and I hold out hope the French don’t use the abominable term at all), but I’m pretty sure a thought leader is also a dealer in hope.
Which is one of the more under-appreciated difficulties in transforming heads of organizations into leaders of industry thought.
Many if not most CEOs are brilliant people. Some are analytical, others are charismatic, others are instinctive. But you can be any one of those or all three and still not be a potential thought leader.
Why? Because a thought-leader is a dealer in hope, and a dealer in hope is someone who sees and can credibly share a concrete vision of a happy future—for the company, for the industry, for the nation, for the world. And in this pessimistic moment, in American history anyway, that’s not a easy thing to do.
Industry critics need not apply, government critics need not apply. No grouches needed, no grumbling allowed.
Would-be thought leaders: If you can’t say something hopeful about your industry, don’t say anything at all—or find some other thing, that you can say something hopeful about. —DM