3 Types of Thought Leadership and 3 Types of Thought Leaders (Is your Business Magnetic?)


What do I mean by Magnetic? if you came here looking for the three types of thought leadership, or three types of thought leaders, who/what they are, with a few examples, then you are in the right place. Let us go first through the basics of what a thought leader is, and what thought leadership entails, then you’ll realize that businesses that invest in thought leadership strategies become magnets, trends, and drivers of change.

Who Is A Thought Leader?

A thought leader is a person/company of influence who is at a very high level of expertise in a particular industry. Such a person/company becomes a focal point of reference in industry circles and is sought after for his or her wealth of experience in the field.

Thought leaders sometimes have a large cult following of dedicated fans who respect and rever them for their contribution to a field.

Thought leaders frequently speak at public events and conferences for the purpose of sharing from their wealth of experiences and knowledge base. They often get enticed by corporate organizations with juicy board positions. Even governments invite them in as top-level technocrats and advisers.

Related Article: Top 30 Influencers and Thought Leaders to Follow in Order to Succeed

Why Becoming A Thought Leader Is A Must For Business Success?

Thought leadership has now become a 21st-century cutting edge way of doing business. There is no shying away from the truth.

Thought leaders are seen as the bane of industries and market niches whose presence command a lot of respect, admiration, and authority from cohorts. As a result of this revered status, a thought leader is afforded much leverage for success in the business and corporate world.

Succinctly outlined below are a few of such success benefits thought leaders enjoy.

  • Visibility and Exposure: For the most part, the greatest advantage of being a thought leader is visibility. Thought leaders get to expose their brands on a global scale and as such, get noticed by investors and industry heavyweights who share in their vision and wish to partner with them.
  • Professionalism: There is an excellent chance of getting to the pinnacle of one’s field through thought leadership.
  • Fulfillment: There is career fulfillment that attached to being a thought leader. You get to see the very ends of the industry as you continually evolve and make enormous contributions to it. This is where the joy and success come from.

Three Types Of Thought Leadership (Where is Your Business at Now?)

Thought leadership is often subdivided into a three-layered system of approach. Each playing a significant role defined for business management and organization.

These three stages are not primarily crucial for organizational growth alone, but they are a symbolic representation of getting from one point to the other in any market setup.

Now, to get the best out of each system, the three-layered approach has been designed to cater to the thought leadership goals of organizations, all dependent on company size, market needs, and targets.

This three-layered system of approach to thought leadership are listed below:

Industry Thought Leadership

The aims and objectives of industry thought leadership is to:

  • Cater to a small but concise market base, where you aim to stay current with trends
  • To build and offer new disruptive ideas about those evolutions within your market niche
  • In this stage, the customer is always king and is factored in any major decision and implementation.

Organizational Thought Leadership

The aims and objectives of organizational thought leadership are to:

  • Carry the company’s motto and vision.
  • Reflect the company’s business culture and uniqueness.
  • This synergy between culture and vision is what shapes the brand of the company.

Product Thought Leadership

The aims and objectives of product thought leadership are to:

  • Formulating success roadmaps for an organization
  • A clear go-to guide for achieving set out goals
  • Have the best product and service for the consumer base
  • Practical real-life illustrations to achieving these goals
  • Continuous push on great and cutting-edge content

Knowing what kind of thought leadership layer you should focus your energy on to build your business, your brand, your innovative and creative talents, and capacity, as well as to quickly establish thought leadership is vital.

Three Types Of Thought Leaders (Which One Are You?)

There are typically three kinds of thought leaders today. They are:

  • The Bootstrapper
  • The Maverick
  • The Maven

The Bootstrapper

The bootstrapper is mostly a newbie in the thought leadership lane, and will; most likely share unpopular opinions and ideas in certain instances, due to a burning passion for achieving his or her vision.

Characteristics Of The Bootstrapper

  • The bootstrapper has a burning passion for success
  • He or she is rebellious
  • Shares independent thoughts
  • Lacks in career experience
  • The bootstrapper is willing to put in the effort and work hard
  • He or she is also willing to take risks

Examples Of The Bootstrapper

  • A Student
  • A Young College Graduate
  • Career starter
  • Start-up founder

The Maverick

The maverick is typically a sassy professional who has a proven track record through unique and uncharted approaches. The maverick is really good at his job.

Characteristics Of The Maverick

  • The maverick is very independent
  • He or she is smart and savvy
  • Fast and with precision
  • The maverick is result-driven
  • He or she is ambitious

Examples Of The Maverick

  • An Artist or Designer
  • Young startup CEO
  • Team leader in corporate organization
  • Unconventional Corporate juggernaut, eg. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs

The Maven

The maven is a true expert with years of experience and track record under his or her belt. Have come to have a broad appreciation for their subjects and are quite intuitive about every action. The maven is very current and up-to-date with trends that shape the market.

Characteristics Of The Maven

  • The maven is an authority figure in an industry
  • The maven has a global reach
  • Speak at conferences
  • The maven should have published a ton of journals
  • Written a book or two

Examples Of The Maven

  • A CEO
  • Seasoned industry professionals
  • Entrepreneur
  • Angel Investors
  • Scientists and researchers
  • Great Artistes


There are three types of thought leadership or you could three layers of thought leadership, and I believe that strong entrepreneurs or business should learn to focus on one layer at a time and become the best at what they do first. We should incentivize creativity and invest heavily on innovation in order to stand out in our niches. This is one of the best ways to use this knowledge of types of thought leadership for the benefit of the business (or your career).

As for the Types o Thought Leaders, you will easily identify yourself/your business with the ones where you relate to in terms of where you are on your career/business journey. If you are a startup, then you are most likely a bootstrapper, focus on building credibility, unique insights, and on being consistent with producing valuable content and ideas, if you stick to that, you should be well on your way to becoming a Maven.

Related Article: Top 30 Influencers and Thought Leaders to Follow in Order to Succeed


Jason Miller. 3 Types of Thought Leadership: Creating the Perfect Mix of Content for Your Brand [Infographic]. https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/3/3-types-of-thought-leadership-creating-the-perfect-mix-of-content-for-your-brand-infographic. Accessed on 03/08/2019.

Lexi Rodrigo. 3 Types of Thought Leaders (Which type are you?) https://alexisrodrigo.com/types-of-thought-leaders/. Accessed on 03/08/2019.

Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

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