Living negatives: the difference between visibility and Thought Leadership

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An interesting task, balancing thought leadership with traditional public relations tactics. The pinnacle of TL has to come from an individual espousing a passionate perspective, but in a business context that must encompass the greater organization – otherwise it’s just an ego play. Of course, ego is good and an individual’s ascent will reflect well on an enterprise, but one person can be undone much more readily than an idea (I swear I didn’t steal that from Batman Begins, but as I write Liam Neeson is lipsynching somewhere).

Take this, for example: a regional accounting firm on the cusp of national recognition. Its leaders are highly visible; they’ve constructed a great deal of awareness on the VCC name. But because there’s little depth beyond that, they face great risk…It’s been all about the face of ownership, and now that ownership is embroiled in a pretty nasty political scandal. Between this eyebrow-raising behavior and a recent malpractice lawsuit, the firm’s character has to be called into question.

I don’t write this to bash the company, they just happen to illustrate an important point. What I see here is not necessarily a bad CPA firm, but poor use of thought leadership in connection with brand management. Fantastic build up through visibility, but zero connection to values, goals, ethics – all the elements that transcend business and align the human with the organization.

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