Thought leader is a term first coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas which merited attention.. It has since evolved into a catch phrase describing someone who is supposed to have progressive and innovative ideas.
It can also have a highly negative connotation due to its similarity with dystopian elements found in the well-known George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four which includes thought crime and thought police. 
The term is sometimes used to characterize leaders of service clubs, officers of veterans' organizations, of civic organizations, of women's clubs, lodges, regional officials and insurance executives.
See also 
- Opinion leadership
- Creative class
- Faith Popcorn
- Futures studies
- Irma Wyman
- Paul White (journalist)
- Anticipatory thinking (futures)
- Kurtzman, J. (2010) Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organisations to Achieve the Extraordinary, ISBN 978-0-470-49009-9
- Cheryl Pass "‘Thought Leaders’: Orwell’s 1984 Moves To The 21st Century", Freedom Outpost, October 11, 2012
- Carey McWilliams (1951) "Government by Whitaker and Baxter II", The Nation, page 367, April 21
- Scott Cutlip (1994) The Unseen Power, page 607
Further reading 
- Acharya, Nupur (2011-06-20). "Infosys, Tata Brands Beat Google and Apple - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Myslewski, Rik (November 25, 2009)."Apple tops Google as UK 'Thought Leader'." The Register.