From Rhetoric to Reliability

business man hand point to branding diagram

From Rhetoric to Reliability: Crafting a Trustworthy Identity in the Age of Information. How we describe ourselves is irrelevant if no one believes us.

Way too many leaders and organisations try to tell a story about who they are, what they believe in and what their values are and cannot, or do not, back up their words with proof or actions that support their rhetoric. Why?

Why, in a day of social media, where YELP and GlassDoor are a click away, do we think we can be anything but honest, transparent and forthright and get away with it?

In today’s world, where information is at our fingertips, it is almost impossible to hide from anyone who cares enough to research.

As Jeff Bezos states, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

With that, we do not control our brands and narratives; we merely influence them.

As people and organisations, we need to ask the following questions (and others) to determine if what we say and what we do are consistent and therefore believed:

  • How many companies use the terms #visionary and #innovative in their mission/vision/values statements?

    Now how many can back it up?
    How many companies leave new initiatives to die in budget meetings because they are too risky?
    How many leaders and organisations consistently dedicate ten percent of their time, focus and budget to blue sky projects?
  • How many companies will fire a toxic client that consistently creates havoc for the teams that support them, no matter the short-term revenue loss?
    How many companies create minimal viable products and have the guts to show them to clients to get their objective feedback?
    How many companies only dedicate half the budget and resources needed for a project with a wait-and-see attitude? 
    How many companies lose great team members because they feel underutilised and underappreciated?
    How many companies have stale, boring, and safe marketing that tries not to offend anyone?

    You can say whatever you like, but in today’s world, it is where the rubber meets the road that gives people the impetus to trust you.

We must stand up for what we believe is correct and live our values as individuals and as organisations. If we do not, we will quickly be deemed a commodity, easily replaced and soon forgotten.  

However, if we live to our promises and act and react consistently, we can create loyalty for ourselves and our organisation. How we communicate through words, actions, policies, and procedures determines whether people like us in the short term, trust us, buy from us, and recommend us to others over time.

If you are an innovative leader or company, act like one and if you cannot, stop saying that you are because you are fooling no one but yourselves.