So the Boss Wants You to Make Him a Thought Leader

Today’s entry is based on one of the 20 case studies in my position paper, “Beyond the Bottom Line: 20 Ways to Reduce Reputational Risk.”

The risk

Your CEO wants to raise his thought leadership profile.

The Background

The financial benefits of this endeavor are, admittedly, difficult to quantify. It makes sense that your company will gain sales if your CEO is front and center in the public’s consciousness (assuming that image is positive, of course).

And he will no doubt increase his own marketability (and, therefore, income) whether at your company or at his next landing spot if he’s viewed as a top thought leader.


The Reputational Costs

The boss wants a more upbeat public image. Nothing wrong with that since reputational benefits are likely to accrue to both him and the company.

Here’s where things get tricky. He expects his communications staff to deliver on that impulse, which means the staff members’ reputations hang in the balance, too. If the effort succeeds, staffers have punched a golden career ticket, living for decades off the ability to say they worked for the now-great man. If things go south, however, you can bet that the communications offices will be relocated to what amounts to a corporate Siberia.

Recommended Action

  1. As set forth in the research report But Mom Told Me Never to Brag: Overcoming the Thought Leadership Hurdles, there are three basic means of raising one’s thought leadership profile. The first is speaking. So set up the boss with speeches to key audiences in formats that show him at his best.
  2. The second technique is writing. The fact is while his name appears as author, in many cases the best writers in your communications shop will do most of the writing. Here again, target your audiences with care.
  3. The third approach involves research. Agreed, this isn’t for everyone. Yet if your CEO has a pet issue and the least inclination to dig deep into it, get your research team to work and foster that drive. Then publish his findings in an appropriate journal.

How have you dealt with this type of request from the inhabitant of your company’s corner office?



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