Of late, a number of rather elegant articles extolling the virtues of thought leadership are appearing in professional journals.

Most interviewees talk about owning issues and leading industries through these strategies, and acknowledge that, while concept peddling might not immediately ring the cash register, it will help differentiate the company from its competitors.

They also mention that, as integral to marketing (especially for service firms), thought leadership is an important way to look at the future, and shape people’s perceptions of the business and its products and services.  Rules are usually included:  Just sell ideas.  Always give it away.  Have a unique perspective.  Focus on one topic at a time.  And market it like a product with a campaign, without any viral expectations.

What they don’t mention is that thought leadership is another form of content marketing.  [Okay, maybe a higher category, but it still involves discovering and/or creating the right information at the right time.]  Similar guidelines for content marketing apply, full force.   Our top three:

  • Position this gently as intelligence, not a “we did this good” case history.
  • [Gasp!]  If needed, feel free to footnote competitors and recognize their contributions.  Sophisticated information consumers live out there.  They know.
  • Encourage use and re-use and recycling with a credit (if possible).  That’s the way your ideas will resonate.

It’s a brave not-so-new world for those who want to build their thought-leading capabilities. 

*With apologies to our fave Yankee coach and catcher.


Every year, Bloomberg Businessweek devotes one issue to MBAs and the schools that love them.

In the latest, a sidebar shows the survey results from 1,320 corporate recruiters who were asked to identify most valued job skills and score each institution for delivery of those skills. The charts revealed what industries want, skills employers value, and where schools succeed. 

Oddly enough (tongue firmly in cheek), the skill on almost every industry’s list was … communication.  Of the 11 industry sectors, from chemicals to transportation, only one – consumer products – didn’t mention communication in its top three ‘most wanted’ skills.  Six of the 11 industry reps ranked communication skills as number one; 68 percent of recruiters say it’s one of the five most important skills.

Then the disconnect begins. 

Of the top ten full-time MBA programs (as ranked by the magazine), from Duke’s Fugua to Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper – including the usual Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Columbia, Stanford, and Northwestern – guess how many scored super high on communication skills?


Therefore, since business schools don’t do a superb job of training its grads on communication, it seems to be the responsibility of industry to do just that.  And sure, corporate courses available through Open Sesame, SkillSoft, Harvard’s ManageMentor do an average kind of job teaching communications.  But why couldn’t it be the province of the communications department and its siblings (like marketing) to supplement the standard learning?  Why couldn’t the function set up a mentoring program to coach managers, early talent, hi-pos, and the like on the ins and outs of communications?

No budget is no excuse.  What is?