Leadership: ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.’

Leadership: ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.’

You think? I believe the best leaders in business understand that business is personal.

When we conduct business, we work with people. People.

When we work with people we know that those people have a wonderful, expansive, creative layer of emotions. When engaged, those emotions thrill us when we have a great day, they intuitively guide our decisions when we listen to them, they excite us when we get something right or do something well and they motivate us when we connect with others in a positive way…. you with me?

However, when they are ignored or dismissed by the ‘It’s not personal, it’s business’ mindset we feel crushed. Our emotional layer, the limbic system in our brain, isn’t something we can switch off when it suits others. Quite the opposite in fact, interaction with others may put us into a mode not dissimilar to scanning for any potential threat they may bring! We almost go looking for it.

Here I could publish many stories, from my team and individual coaching work, of people diminished in a moment through the impact of this mindset. I don’t think I need to, I am guessing you all have your own stories and for the majority of us, at some point we may have been invited to act from that mindset ourselves.

But why is this mindset prevalent today? Take your pick from a number of observations I make below (and please add your own voice in the comments below if you have notices of your own to offer)

  • I witness a cultural need to separate people (emotions) and task (delivery), so prominent in hierarchies and businesses where often the reason given is that the ‘bottom line’ has to be the focus.
  • Maybe it’s about laziness, having a focus on task is often easier and less time consuming and some simply won’t commit the energy to compliment that with a focus on people.
  • Leadership values play a part for some. For example, for those keen (above all else) to make an impact, they may not notice the collateral damage left in their wake.
  • Perhaps it’s a sign of being bold, cutting your losses (read people), moving fast (arguably too fast) and taking risks under the name of entrepreneurship.
  • Some admit it’s about being ill-educated ….not sure how to connect, not sure how to work with things that touch the hearts of others. These people do feel it but have often learned to look the other way, it doesn’t hurt so much or slow them in anyway.

Whatever is the reason I like to believe that people are not operating on the basis of conscious intent to hurt others. That is where my compassion starts and ends. I suggest that in any position where you command influence or power over others you carry an essential responsibility to explore the impact you have.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in the ring with someone with this mindset?

It can often depend on where you are with your resilience and capability to manage them. If you’re well-resourced on both then gain the advantages of mindfulness and pause to separate intent from impact. Makes space for the lightness within the shadows.

With confidence and feeling well supported, you could give them some feedback. Many people are not aware that they are causing you pain as they conduct their working day. Have you told them?

If you’re on the other end of the scale and pressure is turning into stress, dis-ease and/or hurt then it’s time for a conversation (with self initially) about boundaries, your essential needs and if it comes to it, then ways to successfully remove toxic individuals from your life.

Finally, you could choose some introspection, what’s happening for you right now that this person has become intolerable? A potentially more therapeutic angle which has its place in coaching and the workplace as we often navigate volatile, complex and uncertain environments.

Importantly, do something please, tell someone who could help, your Coach, Partner, Parent or a trusted friend just to simply experience and re-connect with a sense being good enough again.

In concluding, we can all notice in ourselves that a level of detachment from the emotions of others does offer a number of valid pay-offs for sure. Check in, are those pay-offs in service of others too? I believe empathy and connection (both impossible with detachment) is where leadership resides and where the real individual, team and organizational benefits* emerge.

Brilliant leaders and lovely business people, those who inspire greatness in their followers, teams, clients and colleagues, connect and empathise such that they’re deeply attuned to their intent and also very conscious of their impact too.

 

If you would like to find out more about how we improve lives of people in business then visit our website to see What We Do or Contact Us directly.

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*NB. A further blog to muse on the difference between leadership pay-offs and benefits perhaps?

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