Thursday, September 12, 2013

Image



As far as your fans know - you are only capable of hate.
I don't hate golf....

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A couple members of my team have just finished one of those trainers nightmare implementations.
As a follow-up, the subject-matter experts are doing further sessions on process and workflow.
From experience, I know this is a good thing.
My colleagues aren't so sure and feel like they fell short.

Previous managers spent years drilling into my head that “image is important,” and I just can’t help but feel that ...the need for these sessions damage our credibility and image in some way. 

For years, I knew the feeling.
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The lot of the IT implementation trainer is to be the scapegoat of all that is wrong with the product and the project.

Be the rescuer of the ill-advised, the ill-planned and the ill-executed.

Make sows ears look like silk purses.

My initial response to my colleague was something along the lines of "We're OK. The SMEs aren't out to get us or make us look bad this time, so we're ahead."

But the more I thought about his comment, I realized that there was something else that bothered me...
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A lot of leadership advice is filled with "fake it till you make it."
Watch your body language.
Wear the appropriate costume.
Use x words.
Apply x tone.

What I have observed is that I get real uncomfortable when I run into someone or something that practices all of the "right" things.

Tutorials that are too polished and pretty.
Voice-overs that are too professional.
Salespeople and executives that look and sound "just right."
Trainers that are a textbook example of "good trainer."

I find myself looking for the catch.
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Over the past few months, I've received some interesting feedback about my work.
The telecommuters seem to be responding to the unpolished nature of Tuesday Morning Telecommuter.
My colleagues have informed me that they appreciate my "honesty" when I train.
Other peers tell me they like my voice-overs - with the dropped letters, slight slurring, popped Ps and breathing noises.

When I look at my favorite trainers / bloggers / mentors / vendors / people - they all have authenticity about them.  There's something messy, human and integrated that makes me trust them more.

This perspective is likely the result of me being terrible at "image control."
My moods are written all over my face (despite my best efforts).
I tend towards the rumpled.
I get obviously uncomfortable if I have to skirt issues or not answer questions or withhold information.

But I also wonder if we are doing people a disservice if we keep preaching "Image is important."
How about "Authenticity is important."
"Connection is important".
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The hypothesis I am currently playing with in my own life....

If I am as open, honest and above-board as I can possibly be...
Image takes care of itself.

I'll let you know what I find....

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