Don’t Oversell or the Social Network Will Catch You

In the pre-social media web (pre web 2.0), it was easy for a business or organization to “oversell” themselves. I saw this from time-to-time. It’s easy to imagine how a business might do this. A website can be designed to make them seem very impressive. Testimonials from customers (whether real or otherwise) can make them sound fantastic. And product images can be air-brushed to look much better than the real item.

Another type of organization that I often saw overselling themselves was churches. Ironic, I guess, but it’s true. I know of a church that promoted its programs for young people, yet only had a handful of them in their actual membership. Once I was given several pictures to use in a collage photo on a website. One of the pictures was a handsome African-American man with a nice smile. I found out later that he was not a member of the church, but on the maintenance staff! In fact, the church did not have any African American members to speak of!!

The days of these types of tactics are hopefully on the decline. The advent of social media allows for a built-in correction mechanism on the web. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs allow people to share their impressions with their friends. There are also now sites like Angie’s list and Glassdoor that give unsolicited feedback on companies. Have you checked your company’s profile on Glassdoor? You should, it may give you some unexpected insight into your employee’s opinions.

One of the beauties of the social media phenomenon is that it brings a social conscience to the web. Hopefully, these tools are used for the overall public good, and helps us all find out what is truth, and what is not, in that big bad world of the Internet.

Principle-Centered Leadership

I was reviewing the book “Principle-Centered Leadersihp” by Stephen Covey the other day, and was reminded of the great message he has in this book.  Here’s a summary.

Overall theme:  That “natural laws, principles, operate regardless.  So get these principles at the center of your life, at the center of relationships, at the center of your management contracts, at the center of your entire organization.”  Further, these principles have been “woven into the fabric of every civilized society and constitute the roots of every family and institution that has endured and prospered”.

  • We may not like them, we may not agree with them all, but they are there. And they have proven effective throughout many centuries.
  • Six major religions all teach the same core beliefs – fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service and patience.
  • Principles are different than values.  Even street gangs and German Nazi’s held values.

How we react to these principles impacts every aspect of our lives.  For example, the principle of trust impacts us on four levels:

  1. Personal – Trustworthiness
  2. Interpersonal – Trust
  3. Managerial – Empowerment
  4. Organizational – Alignment

He gives characteristics of principle-centered leaders.

  • They are continually learning.
  • They are service-oriented.
  • They radiate positive energy.
  • They believe in other people.
  • They lead balanced lives.
  • They see life as an adventure.
  • They are synergistic.
  • They exercise self-renewal

Traits that are essential for managers to exhibit this type of leadership are:

  1. Integrity – “the value we place on ourselves”.
  2. Maturity – “the balance between courage and consideration”.
  3. Abundance Mentality – “there is plenty out there for everybody”.

The abundance mentality is the “bone deep belief that there are enough natural and human resources to realize my dream”. 

The need for a moral compass.  Values are maps, principles are a compass.  We need to trade in our maps for a compass.  An accurate map is a good management tool, but a compass is a leadership and an empowerment tool.    Maps change, compass bearings are constant.