Thought Leadership for CEOs

As I mentioned in my reputation trends for 2015, thought leadership has become the new sustainability in a way.  As I said, the term’s presence on the Internet grew 65% from one year ago and a whopping 707% since 2011. That's all I practically hear these days. For that reason, I like to look at CEO ads in The Economist (hard copy reading on the subway--I know, so 2000!) to see what the requirements are for getting into that corner office today. Among the requirements for Group Chief Executive Officer at Ecobank is the following:

  • A reputation as an industry thought leader in strategic development, communications and execution

It is everywhere. 


Presidential Apologies

Lately, it seems to me that every day brings a different teachable moment to those of us worrying about reputations and communications. Recently I had been following the heartfelt tweets of CEO Tony Fernandes of AirAsia. 

Yesterday's acknowledgement by President Obama about not sending someone more senior to the Paris peace rally last Sunday was the right thing to do. I had wondered myself about how this could have happened while being glued to the television set. It made me wonder about the discussion the communications team must have had with the President about sending a higher-ranking individual to attend the march while all those world leaders were taking center stage. Do you say something that you think can potentially harm a boss's reputation or do you let it just slide (hoping nothing harmful happens in the end)? Hopefully the former. President Obama's spokesperson Josh Earnest took the message to the people yesterday by saying, “It’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there." Although I assume that he was talking about the royal "we" and that the President approved the statement, it was not an outright apology which would have started with "We regret..." Instead, what we got was more a statement of fact. Despite the misstep, the acknowledgement was honest and swift and may have slowed the criticism to some degree. I thought it was good that the President admitted he erred and showed he could be wrong and could change course. Some leaders would have been insistent that the individual sent was high enough and what was all this commotion. I also learned while reading about the error that Obama had visited the French Embassy in Washington DC last Thursday to sign  a condolence book which made me feel better in the end.