Will you be real or fake this year?

There is an uncomfortable majority of people today living their lives and running their careers and businesses as fakes. Some are no doubt shifty, but I suspect most just don’t know how or don’t have the heart to do it any other way.

In the last few months I’ve been called in to review last year’s performance and advised on 2017 directions with business owners, corporate CEOs, heads of associations, marketing directors, public relations chiefs, and leaders of professional service firms. For more than half the focus has been on communication and marketing. The balance has been on more general business performance, mainly for owners of medium-sized businesses and professional service firms. So I watch all these sectors closely.

So what’s fake? In a nutshell, the inability to face what Jim Collins in “Good to Great” called the brutal facts. For the PR and marketing folk, it is mostly confusing activities with outcomes – striving for and reporting things done and measures of activity (such as social media mentions) as somehow akin to bottom line outcomes. For business owners and association heads it is mostly scrambling the logic of strategic approaches and outcomes. For both groups the question needs to be something like “If we fully achieve x, y and z on your plans, does that give us the outcomes we need?” When the answer is no, they re-plan until the combination of all approaches gets a yes. Trouble is, so many don’t ask this question, or don’t answer it with any follow-through.

For CEOs of larger businesses, they are generally better at strategic planning and execution, but mostly poor at the “soft stuff” such as staff or community engagement. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, most are mired in the belief that if we only tell them what we think and what we are doing, others will/should magically align with us. Again, avoiding the brutal facts prevents them adopting less familiar, less comfortable approaches that do get the outcomes they need.

In 2017 every aspect of business, politics, Government, and society seems more ambiguous, more fluid than previous years. Kidding yourself about what you are comfortable with that should work rather than insisting on what will work even if it is a bit new or less comfortable is riskier than ever before.

So as you set and pursue your objectives and programs this year, will you be real or a fake? The answer will define you.