One Face: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely

One Face: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely

by Sarah McDugal


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630477325
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 152
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Sarah K. McDugal is a brand strategist, director, and entrepreneur with more than twenty years of experience in brand development, media production and team leadership. She has directed more than one hundred and fifty story videos for clients ranging from citywide brand campaigns to global TV networks.

Read an Excerpt

It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and I’ve been at work since 7:00 a.m. yesterday. For the past twenty hours, I’ve been hyper-focused on running my team’s annual general meetings. Our remotely operated international staff has gathered together in Western Europe from more than 5 different countries to spend a week planning out the next year’s projects.

My weary crew members are dropping laptops into backpacks with eyes glazed. We aren’t even halfway through the week and everyone is ready to collapse. We all desperately need sleep, some time off, a chance to wander cobblestone streets and find inspiration again. I’m about to follow my guys out the door when the boss beckons me into his office.

“Sit down and go over these script concepts with me. I want to add some new projects to the production calendar.”

I’m exhausted. I’m in a country five time zones from home and haven’t gotten past the jet lag yet. It takes every remaining ounce of energy to focus my brain out of the fog creeping up on the edges of my vision. At this point, it’s all I can do to just respond in full sentences.

Oh yes. And yesterday at 5:00 a.m., two little blue lines announced that I’m pregnant. I haven’t even told my husband yet. I’m nauseated, but not sure if it’s from pregnancy or sheer exhaustion. And I’m starving because we worked straight through dinner.

Oblivious, the boss is not even talking about his latest plans to tweak the production schedule. I already know it doesn't matter to him that the project lineup was voted by the entire team this morning. He’ll mix it around however he likes, without regard for logic or productivity. He drones on about imaginary interpersonal issues he thinks are reality between two of our team members.

I could not care less.

My first thought is to protect the current target of his interpersonal paranoia: Why are you attacking the team member who is likely the smartest creative person on our crew (and one of my best friends)?

My second thought is pure self-preservation. Is there any sane reason that this can’t wait a mere four hours until 7:00 a.m. when I’m expected to be back at my desk? All I want to do is sleep.

My boss is a narcissistic manipulator and it hits me that I’ve been enabling him for years. Despite the fact that I’d probably describe myself as someone who reads people well, I’m really only starting to see it for the first time. I’ve been so busy pandering to his ego, managing his paranoia, and offering myself as a buffer to protect my team from his toxicity, that I can’t even pinpoint where things went off track.

He’s the epitome of a man living multiple personas to different people. He does not live with one face. And I don’t have a clue how I let things spiral so out of control.

The Way Things Were

There was a time when society was made up almost solely of small, intimate social groups. People lived on farms, in villages, in small towns. Even in the big cities, distinct social classes forced narrow circles of interaction. Everybody knew everybody else’s story, because they grew up alongside each other and then grew old in the same place. If you beat your wife or lied compulsively or cheated customers at your market stall, people knew. They might ignore it, but they still knew. People kept each other’s secrets as a matter of survival.

There was a great deal of openness and transparency in this social face-to-face world, but in contrast, the corporate business world offered consumers no accurate opportunity for fact-checking. The only information you had was the facts and data that the company put on paper for you to see. Corporations could essentially tell any story they wanted, because it was almost impossible for anyone to uncover the skeletons in their closets, the multiple identities behind closed doors, or the schizophrenic values. This created a very real opaque corporate veil.

If an organization had a schizophrenic past or a fraudulent present, all you had to do was bury the paper trail and there was a good chance nobody would ever find the evidence. Even information technically considered “in the public domain” required a time-consuming trip to the county courthouse or an archives building. Then you had to sit a file room and sneeze your way through a hundred mildewed boxes until you found that one elusive sheet of paper. You had to possess an intense investigative drive—or a search warrant —to ever unveil corporate secrets.

Those large corporations also controlled the media, which meant they controlled the story. A select few at the top determined the message, the morals, and the mindset they wanted to instill among the public. The corporate veil protected big companies and shielded the shenanigans of their leadership from public view. It was fairly easy to hide the skeletons in your corporate closet, in the analog world.

That was then.

The Digital Flip

Now we have the reverse.

You might naturally think that this means the opaque veil has been pulled back, since so much information is out in the open. But instead of vanishing, the veil has simply repositioned itself. Now, rather than keeping corporate secrets, we’ve allowed it to separate us individually through the constant façade of digital media.

In real life we tend to exist in isolated, compartmentalized worlds where we rarely speak to neighbors and anybody can pose as anybody else on the Internet. The digital world gives every person with a WiFi connection the platform to pretend to be anyone they wish, for any purpose, a luxury once available only to wealthy business. Reinvention awaits, available at the stroke of our fingertips. Any teenage kid in a chat room knows it’s challenging to resist the lure of presenting ourselves as someone we're not, simply because digital media makes it so easy for us to do so. And those on the other side of the screen have no way of knowing if you’re the 13-year-old girl you say you are, or a dangerous sexual predator. There’s no way to know the difference.

If you’re a jerk, or a narcissist, or a fraud, or a pedophile— the digital veil might allow you to successfully conceal your true self for a very long time. But it also allows the average person to more successfully navigate around what was once such an opaque corporate veil. Three dozen key strokes on Google will reveal anything that is a matter of public record anywhere—and often a significant amount of so-called private data is exposed as well. Corporate skeletons are no longer so easily closeted away.

We’re living in the center of this digital flip. Unless we make a focused, intentional effort to seek transparency, while simultaneously rejecting the temptation to compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s social media highlight reel, we don’t stand a chance of authenticity.

Whether you are a corporate leader, a brand manager, a non-profit visionary, or simply a caring grandparent—you’re telling a story with your life and through your organization. All relationships are based on trust. That trust is either strengthened or destroyed by the values people observe you acting out on a day to day basis. When there is a breakdown between what happens in a leader’s private life and the message they present to their public, or between a company’s published philosophy and the experience someone has with an employee or produc—trust is broken.

Nothing kills brand engagement and violates trust faster than feeling betrayed, thinking you’d bought into a relationship that offered one particular set of values, then discovering that the reality is something different.

In personal life, in public leadership, in corporate identity and brand experience, it is absolutely vital to choose a set of core values, clearly articulate them, then consistently and intentionally implement them across all platforms.

If all facets of an individual or organization are not governed by the same set of values, you will end up dividing your effectiveness by spending at least some of your energy to put a positive spin on the skeletons in your closet, and investing the rest of it into making sure no one opens the closet door.

The great, looming challenge we all face in both corporate and individual identity is our deep and rooted human need to live with one face.

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