Are you attractive enough to be a thought leader?




James Ralph

This week, The Thought Leadership Project looks at why thought leadership all comes down to beautiful minds… 

It is often tough to identify the thought leaders within an organisation, but according to the July 21 issue of New Scientist magazine it could be as simple as singling out your most attractive colleagues. British boys and girls judged more physically attractive by their teachers were found to lead their peers by 13.6 and 11.4 IQ points respectively.

Of course intelligence is not the only factor that comes into play in shaping ideas that are able to advance commercial agendas. The ability to step outside of your preconceptions is also important, and here intelligent people may well be at a disadvantage.

When asked to analyse a controversial issue, intelligent people were able to come up with more arguments to both support and critique it than their less intellectually gifted colleagues. However they were not unbiased. Most of their statements, both for and against, reflected their existing world view. That’s obviously not ideal if you’re seeking to advance rather than echo the debate, and it’s definitely a fact that I’ll be deploying to challenge the participants in my next PoV session. Standing on the shoulders of giants is all well and good, but sometimes it’s worth taking a fresh look at a problem.

So what would be our top tips for helping people step outside of their comfort zone and explore the possibilities of their ideas?

1.     Find time and space – trying to hothouse a solution in an hour on a wet Wednesday is rarely a good idea. Group discussions are fine, but do consider whether individual sessions might unlock more from certain characters.

2.     Assemble a varied set of perspectives – only dealing with a single discipline can be a mistake, try to involve individuals from across the business value chain.

3.     Establish an open mind set – don’t be afraid to bring in your favourite brainstorming techniques such as word association to open things up.

4.     Listen don’t judge – it’s important not to allow those participating in the PoV session to rule things out too quickly.

5.     Refine outside the room – similarly don’t push too hard when you uncover a promising area. Leave that for the follow up research.

I’d be fascinated to hear your tips on getting executives to open up. As ever feel free to respond in the comments section or submit your own post. Join our LinkedIn group, visit our website, or check out and register for our upcoming events.

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