Given the choice between looking good or doing good at work choose the latter. Always. Life benefits those who do good far more.
Many organisations are obsessed with appearances. Good news flows up. Bad news is hidden or manipulated. There is so much attention on managing appearances that there is no attention to actually doing the work, let alone doing it well or for the wider benefit.
I came across a wonderful story on Twitter today of a business doing good for its own sake and benefiting the community. Ultimately that flowed back to benefit them in a surprising way.
Again and again in my career I have found that doing good for others and focusing on the long term delivers the better outcomes. Gaining at the expense of others or reality is rarely worthwhile or sustainable. All the short term trade offs and image management costs in long term performance. Images shatter eventually when they have no real foundation.
More than anything it costs in reputation, trust and your own self-esteem. People do repay kindness and good work. People do tell others about it. So many unique opportunities flow from those two things that are inaccessible otherwise. If you want to look yourself in the mirror, leave aside the corporate posturing and focus on doing good work well.
We only get one shot at this. Do your best work for others every chance you get. Leave the spinning and shenanigans to those who want to spend their time that way. The rewards of power or status alone are shallow. These advantages will be also be far too short-lived.