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Building Thought Leadership for a University Leadership Development Group

We developed a bi-monthly custom magazine, Leadership Excellence, to demonstrate thought leadership for SMU Cox’s staff and faculty. Messages from high-level corporate leaders complimented the business leadership skills displayed by the publication.


The Story

Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business has a solid reputation on a local, regional and national basis for offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate business programs. Cox Executive Education offers programs that provide relevant and dynamic learning experiences for working professionals, managers, and executives. These programs develop leadership capability, business acumen, strategic thinking and decision making skills that improve business performance. Both open enrollment and custom programs are offered on the SMU campus in the state-of-the-art James M. Collins Executive Education Center, as well as in-house for custom learning solutions for corporate clients.  Although SMU Cox is well known and regarded, the Executive Education division sought to increase recognition and visibility with current and potential business leader clients, and enhance a thought leadership reputation.

How We Told the Story

We partnered with SMU Cox Executive Education in 2009 to develop a bi-monthly custom electronic issue of the established high-caliber magazine, Leadership Excellence. Each issue included articles by Cox faculty and/or key staff leaders that appeared along with other articles written by prominent leadership development experts and practitioners, an SMU Cox-related cover photograph and ads provided by Executive Education. Our team, led by Executive Education Associate Dean Frank Lloyd, identified Cox faculty and SMU leaders who worked closely with Executive Education, approached them to develop articles about business leaders’ challenges, solutions and issues based on their own research or expertise. In some cases, we wrote the initial draft of the article from research studies or interviews for author review and editing. In other situations original articles were written by authors for editing by the team.  Article topics included a three-part series on mastering negotiations, the employee engagement gap, viewpoint on where the U.S. economy is headed, using avatars in a virtual business world for leadership development and servant leadership, among others.

A complimentary copy of the SMU Cox custom issue of Leadership Excellence was emailed to a database of individuals who had attended previous Executive Education programs, current and former corporate client groups, other faculty and leaders at SMU, corporate leaders at targeted regional firms and other community influencers. The electronic publication has also been printed out in hard copy format for sharing with company representatives who visit the Collins Center on the SMU Cox campus.

The Result

Over the course of twelve months, Cox Executive Education leaders and staff received a number of inquiries and comments about Leadership Excellence. Messages from high-level corporate leaders complimented the business leadership skills and thought leadership displayed by the publication. The Dean of the SMU Cox School of Business handed out hard copies of the publication at SMU and Cox Board meetings and other interactions with Dallas area community influencers. Individual articles have been repurposed as contributed articles to vertical industry and learning/HR publications, and the New York Times.