Entries in leadership (2)


The importance of thought leadership

Communication is a critical component of business leadership, and it comes in different forms. There are the direct, immediate messages and conversations associated with marketing and customer engagement, but there is also a more strategic communications component, one commonly referred to as thought leadership. I enjoyed a recent survey and report by Kite Global Advisors that looks at the role of thought leadership and it's growing importance to business.

In attempting to define what thought leadership is, Kite found a common characteristic is long-term orientation. Rather than focusing on driving a sale in the near-term, thought leadership seeks to build a sustained engagement with an audience, to help build relationships with a wider group of stakeholders.

The research identified four primary objectives for this type of communication: brand building, making a difference in the world, engaging the workforce, and supporting marketing strategy. (see graphic, below)

It also raises interesting questions, looking at the kinds of issues being covered and combining that with the view that thought leadership is increasing in importance -- what does this say about the future direction and priorities of business?

-- Bruno Roche


John Van Maanen, Catalyst fellow, on teaching leadership

Writing in the New York Times Education Life column on Tuesday, author Duff McDonald examines the issue of what, exactly, business schools are teaching. Noting the overwhelming shift in these schools' marketing and communications materials away from from a focus on "management" and towards "leadership," the piece raised the question of whether leadership can, in fact, be taught.

Specifically, the Times turned to John Van Maanen, a Catalyst Culture Lab fellow.

"John Van Maanen, a professor of management at M.I.T. Sloan who teaches a course named “Leading Organizations,” isn’t so sure it can. “Even today, three-plus decades in, there’s no real definition of it,” he says. “We can make people more conscious of ethical dilemmas in business, of the difficulty of directing people in times of adversity, and the confidence and communication skills necessary to do so. But the idea that such skills can be transmitted so that you can lead anybody at any time, that’s ideologically vacuous.”

“It’s difficult not to be frustrated by the excessive focus on it,” he says, “but it’s become so popular that we apparently can’t teach enough of it.”

McDonald concludes by noting that Dr. Van Maanen is not alone in his skepticism. What do you think?

Image source: New York Times

-- Clara Shen