In two of our podcasts we addressed CEO leadership beyond the confines of the corporation that they preside over. We interviewed Susan Story, CEO of American Water and illustrated with her public policy leadership the ability to lead beyond authority of the corporation she is responsible before. We also interviewed Pedro Pizarro, CEO of Edison International and the need to provide leadership in collaboration with other sectors in order to meet the stringent California mandates around renewable energy and a low carbon future.
The role of the CEO has evolved well beyond leadership of the company over which they preside. They are not just the face and voice of the company, but are asked to be an industry and a global economic prognosticator as well as a policy influencer. Influence beyond the company requires that every contact a chief executive makes beyond the company is an opportunity to enhance the brand and strengthen relationships. When done well, this influencing is defined, directed and intentional. In a sales context, the program is called Customer Relation Management. In a C Suite executive external influencing context, it’s called Executive Relationship Management.
ERM is used intentionally to enhance the reputation of an organization with a wide range of stakeholders while developing an executive’s leadership beyond the walls of the organization. While the ERM process creates the network and the media, the executive’s development of thought leadership creates the content to put through the network and move the executive into a position of responsibility and influence. This content should be authentic for the executive and something for which the executive has a strong passion. Thought leadership areas could include areas like the environment, clean energy, governance, public policy, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, etc.
Spurred by the consequences of rapid globalization, the public has tended to want to know where corporate management stood on issues of diversity, human rights, fair trade, the environment and energy use.
Thought Leadership considerations:
Authentic and aligned to the executive’s passions and personal interests
Relevant to the business or industry in which the company is engaged
Visibility of the issue in the media and within think tanks
An existence of a range of perspectives on the subject so there is sufficient room for unique, but legitimate perspectives and debate
The perspective the company takes on the issue should not be exclusively self-serving
A differentiating strength might come from the company’s ability to speak out on the issue, but using its well-developed ERM network to convene a range of voices in order to extend the thinking on the subject
The content should general and understandable enough to allow the public’s understanding. It should not be subject matter so technical or arcane to only include the cognoscenti.
The area of thought leadership should not be overcrowded with CEO and executive leadership interests.
The Lyceum is able to leverage its consulting and publishing organizations in a manner to not only provide counsel, coaching and administration of these programs, but also utilize its media platform to help disseminate select thought leadership content.