In this scene from the Godfather, Michael Corleone is trying to convince Sonny that he is not pursuing a personal vendetta, that what he is about to do is just business. Many of us have found ourselves in situations where we are not always sure of ourselves and putting our behaviour down to ‘business’ can be used as a way to help feel at ease with situations and challenges. It becomes our excuse for bad behaviour, a way to shift responsibility so we don’t feel judged.
No one can be purely objective – everyone is influenced by their own contexts. Every choice we make is personal. It is driven by what we value, believe, our past experience and our emotions.
The idea that business is not personal has no place in the modern work environment:
We know today that management styles are personal, work styles and tools are personal.
It's good business to make our customers feel like they have personalised service and are being treated as an individual.
Employees pursue personal growth and goals along with those of their team and company
Creating your organisation’s vision and strategic direction is personal as these are informed by your purpose, your why
Successful businesses set objectives and strategies, but what drives you, what fuels the actions needed to reach those goals, is all personal
Your leadership is personal – teams follow people, not titles
And telling me something is not personal does not make it any less so. If you work to align your values and purpose with your team, your company & your clients then personal and business behaviour become more aligned. We will ultimately be more productive and more successful in business if we focus on the personal – choose projects, teams and clients that share your values, beliefs and purpose.
Next time you hear ‘it’s nothing personal’, ask yourself…is this really true? I believe the only thing that is true now is that nothing is certain. You will always have to make tough decisions in business and being personal can lead you to take a responsible approach. Being personal is useful as it helps you find tolerance and compassion in solutions. It makes us consider the very real lives and goals of our teams and clients. Doubting ‘it’s just business’ is useful – it makes us think and explore options and alternatives. And questioning how it’s always done in business - this leads to new discoveries and creative solutions.