My latest in Quartz…
Some leaders are fantastic at “team branding”—communicating about their group in ways that give the rest of the organization a good understanding of what the team is all about. Others are squarely focused on “team public relations”—telling a great story about a team that, if we looked more closely, we might find is not delivering or functioning very well (it always comes out in the end).
Team PR is usually overly positive, glossing over the hard questions. It’s about generating the right illusion. But when what you say (i.e. your PR) doesn’t align with what people say about you (i.e. your branding), it’s a surefire way to undermine trust in your leadership.
Don’t get me wrong. PR is a legitimate part of the team branding process. You need to be able to talk about your team’s strengths and accomplishments. But to build a brand that reflects and projects reality, you also need to be able to talk about your team’s failures, and the gap between where the team is now and where it hopes to be.