Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's Really Being Shredded?

So there's this company called LifeLock that offers identity and personal information protection for a flat monthly fee. You may even remember their television ad from a while back where they pasted its CEO's Social Security number on the screen? By the way, their web site now includes (I've circled it in red, above) an asterisk: "Never share your social security number unnecessarily." (Okay, so apparently, advertising IS necessary! (See yesterday's Accenture piece for more on that.)

But LifeLock now has an even more puzzling full-page newspaper ad that says:

Enroll Today and Receive a FREE Shredder!

Okay, someone explain this to me: Why would a company that guarantees you against identity theft be offering something that you wouldn't need after signing up as an enrollment incentive?!

Don't get me wrong, shredders are good things. But, in this context, isn't that like offering a free steak dinner to anyone who becomes a vegetarian?! Isn't that like offering you free cat litter for as long as you own your dog?! I guess you could give the shredder away to a loved one, but you'd think LifeLock would rather you give them a subscription to their service instead, no?!

Mixed messages, like these, are a pet peeve of mine -- like the TV ads that basically say, "If you're stupid like the people in this TV commercial, then our product is perfect for you!" Argh!

So, too, are mixed messages in the workplace -- especially in the leadership space:
  • Like a boss who who gigs people for tardiness but takes long lunches and sneaks out early himself
  • Like a boss who insists on work/life balance but expects a timely reply to her Sunday afternoon emails
  • Like a boss who stresses professionalism, but says, "Do as I say, not as I do"
  • Like a boss who encourages you to do better but won't say what's specifically needed to bring your performance up to the next level

The only thing that these things "shred" is your leadership reputation. So take a moment to consider what mixed messages might YOU be sending -- not just in your company's advertising campaign, but in your own leadership style, as well. Protect your Leadership Identity.

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