I'm surprised this topic isn't getting more commentary here. I would have chimed in earlier myself, but was on vacation for the USA Independence Day holiday weekend.
I fear that much of the progress community managers have made over the past few years to gain authority stands to be rolled back by senior executives. After reading about this, I imagined myself as a CEO at an organization with a community initiative. Here's what went through my mind during this thought experiment:
"Wow, how embarrassing for Ellen Pao! 150,000 people have signed a petition to get her fired. How can I prevent this from happening to me? I may need to let people go at any time if the economy turns south, or if they violate company policy, or for any of a bunch of other reasons. And it will always be their word against mine on why they were let go -- I'm sure to lose that debate with a wildly popular community manager. If I give our community manager too much influence, exposure, and power, they could become more liked by our customers, members, users, etc. More than me, more than even the organization itself. Maybe I need to rein in the community manager's prominence and autonomy so that this doesn't happen to us. Maybe I need to get more hands-on with our community initiative. Maybe I should distribute community authority among a larger team so that no single community manager becomes so popular as to create this kind of headache for me. Maybe all staff posts need to come from a generic company account."
I'm curious to know if any community geeks are proactively addressing this issue head-on with their superiors?