A façade can be an appearance—the surface image of care, interest, integrity—either projected by a person, group, or organization or attributed to them by others through observation or perception. Whether intentional or not, we all have a façade, an outer image that the world perceives, both personally and for our businesses. For many of us, the differences between the “real” us and the image may be less dramatic or fewer than for others. For some, the differences may be pretty significant and create major issues when trying to “live up to” the image.
Great People and Organizations Are Substantive
Great people and organizations are more than images. They have substance behind the façade; not necessarily perfection, because of course, every individual is human and every organization is created and composed of humans. On the other hand, the image or façade isn’t enough because ultimately, the all-too-human part will begin to show and the cracks in the façade will appear. When the flaws inevitably show or surface, then what? How will you and your organization respond? With the underlying integrity that is part of your true nature and with substantive action, or with reactions that magnify the issues?
If as individuals and organizations we are more than a façade, then we set standards that will guide us when things go right and even more when things go wrong. We conduct ourselves to those ethical and professional standards and if/when we fall short, we take responsibility and the consequences. Then we regroup, rebuild, and go on. We work to make sure that we put in place additional controls, processes, and guidelines that will prevent recurrences of improper actions and encourage proper future actions.
Winning the Right Way
Winning at any price or with any methods cannot be acceptable. Stealing intellectual property—whether it is taking customer contact lists from employers or circumventing laws; filming hand signals for football games or making adjustments to race cars that aren’t allowed; plagiarizing written works from the Internet or from a colleague’s grant proposal—the façade cannot be maintained. Day in, day out, when the façade does not match the substance of the person or the organization, it is not sustainable. The façade will crack and credibility will be damaged to some degree.
Building a Façade for the Substance You Have
Perhaps you have heard the saying “fake it until you make it.” This is about having the façade of confidence until you are comfortable in the setting or group you are interacting with. It is a temporary state of pretending to “fit in.” It isn’t about a permanent state of “pretend,” nor is it about faking credentials, competency, or real abilities. Faking it until you make it is about getting comfortable in your own skin in a setting where you have every right to be comfortable. It is about your own level of self-confidence. Yes, it is a type of façade projection, but it’s getting the façade to fit the substance you already have.
Sometimes we have the substance and we don’t have the necessary packaging to comfortably present it. We have to work on the façade, the packaging to make the substance and the content attractive to the public, the market, and the audience. In those instances, the façade is the necessary “flash” that makes our oh-so-valuable skills, talents, and abilities desirable to the “buyer.” The façade is the polish that increases the value (at least to some) because the surface aspects are how they interact with the substance.
Flash, Substance, Façade, Reality
What it all comes down to is this: We are all individually and as organizations a combination of the skills, abilities, and talents, as well as the image we project. When the external image and the internal substance—those skills, abilities, and talents—are consistent, closely matched, and when the perceptions of the internal and external are closely aligned and both are underpinned with integrity and substance, then there is an ability to act responsibly and well when things go right (or when things go wrong). There is an ability to withstand the ups and downs that inevitably come as markets change, as competition occurs, and as the business and world evolve.
Too many people and organizations rely on and are attracted to flash over substance. They take the song-and-dance man over the visionary with discipline, direction, and a plan. They are attracted to big promises, big talk, and quick rewards with little thought as to what to do if there are no home runs, perfect scenarios, or if timelines slip.
Realistic expectations; plans and execution; substance and image: It all needs to come together. Maintain integrity in all things. Façades crack. Substance holds up.
Copyright © 2008 F.O.C.U.S. Resources, Inc.