Many people spend an exuberant amount of time trying to position themselves and prove to others that they are "thought leaders". This buzz-word became popular in the 1990s and is now the holy grail in business. Every company and corporate "guru" strives for this label.
Many self-assign themselves the "thought leader" moniker, but you cannot appoint yourself the leader. If nobody is following you, then you are not necessarily out front.
But is it a bad thing to be a "Thought Follower"? Our cowboy society applauds the self-made pioneer and makes the concept of not being the leader into a sub-standard position. You do not see executive committees sending the second best sales person to Hawaii or praising the late adopters inside the organization.
(Only Avis Rent-A-Car ever publicly cheered their own runner up status and said that the number two position can be a darn good thing - there was a lot of money to be made for number two).
I am not condemning leaders (thought or otherwise). They are great. Important. But if there can be just one first, then everyone else is left to be a loser. If victory is reserved for those who create something totally unique or dream up a premier idea, then there is no room for those who follow to have an impact.
I believe that there are many paths to success, and first-mover innovation is only one of the routes.
This does not mean that the masses should just sit back and wait for "thought leaders" to create the new way and then mindlessly follow. Instead the real challenge is to see the new concepts and extend them even further into fresh arenas that the original creator did not imagine.
You do not always need to be the "thought leader" and we need not only admire those who hold that title. Instead we should always be observing the new new thing and pushing it in even newer directions. Observe and honor the thought leaders, and then take their inspiration and create something more spectacular so that the world can cheer.
Thought Followers of the world unite!
Have A Great Day.