Are You Keeping UP Appearances?
One of my all-time favorite British comedy shows (of which there are many) was the popular “Keeping Up Appearances” sitcom in the 1990’s.
The premise of the show was the central character, Hyacinth, who desperately wanted to extricate herself (and her mild-mannered husband) from a dysfunctional middle-class family to that of the British social elite. Not wanting anyone to know her lower-class sisters or senile father, Hyacinth’s antics to keep an upper-class facade brought calamity – and hilarity – to herself and those around her.
We as leaders struggle with the mindset of Keeping UP Appearances as well. How often to we try to come across as more successful, or influential, then we really are. Many of us, myself included, are guilty of this from time to time. Many others make this a permanent part of their leadership reality.
Some of the reasons we create this facade:
- Wanting to “be” the person we want to become rather than waiting or working towards it
- Getting “in” with certain influencers solely for how they can elevate your status
- Fear of being “known” as someone less than who you want to be, or a failure
- Desiring to be “seen” as someone who knows more than they do
- Claiming our sense of “self-worth” from those things that aren’t really true, or fulfilling
- Hoping not to be “associated” with people that you deem lower than yourself
Keeping UP Appearances is like keeping up with the Joneses; you are chasing an elusive goal that is always a moving target (remember the Jones’ are trying to keep up with other people, or maybe even you).
Leadership is a place of hard work and discipline, principles and serving others. It takes more work to put on the hypocritical mask of “big shot” than it does to work in earnest and earn whatever level of success you desire.
Studies, blogs, and various authors have determined some of the best criteria for leaders as follows. These criteria are becoming more highly sough after in virtually every realm of leadership:
- Authenticity – being who you say you are
- Honesty – speaking the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable
- Character – having a reputation as a person who stands by their values
- Transparency – nothing to hide, always an “open book”
- Relatability – someone who makes others comfortable, whether the plumber or the CEO
- Approachable – not aloof, always have time for others development and concerns
- Servant-minded – giving of your time to make others better
- Humbleness – willing to admit your failings and that you’re human
- Contentment – thankful for what you have and where you are, even in (or despite) the pursuit of building your future
A self-serving leader who strives to keep UP appearances is only thinking of themselves. The beginning and ending of their thought process always will be of how a particular action will benefit them. They will maneuver everything to make themselves come out as gold, instead of being concerned about how the organization or people involved will come out of each action.
Do you work hard to “Keep UP Appearances”? Instead, work from the inside-out. Develop your genuine character and skills – and those of your people – and allow that to resonate out. Your reputation is built by the people you influence, not the other way around.