Thursday, August 17, 2006

Translating What?

One of the companies consulting with us to implement Sarbanes-Oxley compliance has this motto on their cards:

Translating Thought Leadership... Creating Business Results (TM)

I'm OK with "Creating Business Results", but I have no idea how to parse "Translating Thought Leadership." Is "thought leadership" something they translate? Are they trying to say they are leaders in translating thoughts (in which case "thought translating leadership" might make more sense)? The structure of the whole slogan suggests it's supposed to be parallel, but that only muddies the waters.

Does this make sense to other people?


rvman said...

I assume they are translating the leadership 'thoughts' of their clients into real world terms, thus 'creating business results'. They are brown-nosing the folks in executive management who would hire them - "You have great ideas, we can help you implement them".

sally said...

And if the results suck, that's your own damn fault - we're just translating your thoughts into business results, leaders.

Mosch said...

if your thoughts suck then we're just resulting your business into leadership translation, um, transition.

Tam's momm said...

I didn't know what "thought leadership was so I Yahooed it (If you can Google I can Yahoo). This is one of many things I found on the subject:
(I wonder if it's an LC subject heading yet)

What is thought leadership?

Whenever you advocate a new idea to your colleagues or boss, you show thought leadership. It isn't necessary to have inspirational influencing skills, which is necessary for senior executives because they need to win over the entire organization and beat off their internal competitors for top jobs. Also, to initiate organization-wide change, it helps to be inspirational. But a thought leader focuses on smaller scale changes - ideas for a new product or changes to an existing one. Thought leaders can persuade others using logic, evidence or an actual demonstration of a prototype to win support.

To be a thought leader, you need to immerse yourself in your professional domain and search for new things to say that add value to your organization's objectives. Traditional, top-down leadership depends on personal credibility or character because such leaders are asking people to join them on a difficult journey and they have a great deal of power over their followers. Hence, we need to trust them. Conversely, the thought leader could have weak interpersonal skills and an indifferent character. They could be loners or eccentrics. All that counts is the credibility of their new idea. This is why we can buy innovations offered by odd creative types who we would not entrust to manage any part of an organization. If you can demonstrate the value of your idea and explain it with conviction, you might not need inspirational influencing skills.

Thought leadership is based on youthful rebelliousness - the willingness to risk group rejection in the pursuit of a better way of doing things. Hence, thought leadership is not a learned skill. Only the content of your discipline or field is learned. Traditional, top-down leadership is portrayed as a collaborative effort between leaders and followers to achieve shared goals. But thought leadership has a more competitive edge. Thought leaders are saying, essentially, that they know of a better product or way of doing things than anyone else in the team or organization. Thought leadership ends when the target audience accepts the idea. It may be that you are using hard evidence to persuade others to avoid dumping a current process for a passing fad. In this case, your leadership does not result in any action taken. This is an important point because it enables us to define leadership as the initiation of new directions and categorize the implementation of new ideas as a managerial activity. This is important because we tend, traditionally, to focus on the PERSON in charge of a group as the leader who may both champion a new direction and implement it. Hence we think that leadership is about managing change. The real value of examining thought leadership is that it helps us to see that there is a critically important distinction between leadership and management. When executives move from championing a new idea to its implementation, therefore, they are switching hats from leadership to management. The bottom line is that leadership is about the initiation of new directions. Implementing them is a managerial undertaking.