It’s the famous line from the movie, The Godfather. Michael Corleone declares he’ll kill two men who have attempted to assassinate his family (and thus, take their business). When he’s told he’s taking things personally, he responds by saying, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.”
Oooh. It sounds so tough. It’s the perfect machismo effect for a Hollywood picture. You’ve got to love the drama!
Unfortunately, in real life some teams have to endure too much drama. It’s true: There is a population of bosses in this world with a severely diminished aptitude for understanding that business is personal. If your company employs persons, you’ve got offices full of emotions.
It’s an insult to all of us when someone in a position of power uses the “it’s not personal – it’s business” approach, because this mindset translates to “I don’t give a darn about you as a person – it’s the shareholders’ wallet I’m worried about.”
Bosses who choose not to address the emotional mindset of their team do so at their own peril. Spare us the ill-bred and tired notion that people are obligated to perform at high levels just because we’re giving them a salary to do so. How a person performs is a personal choice. That means performance is an emotional choice.
You can’t ask someone to “give it their all,” their effort, their heart, their guts, without expecting them to invest their emotions as well. It’s all – or nothing.
The Corleone family couldn’t sustain their power. Similarly, there is a correlation between the success of your team and their collective emotional intelligence.
This may be the greatest paradox facing leaders. In an age of get-results-as-fast-as-you-can, it may seem that we have to de-personalize our transactions with others. But the more we de-humanize ourselves, the more we lose our soul – which is the very thing that delivers the creative edge necessary to differentiate ourselves in the market.
Greatness lies in becoming more effective at being ourselves. Ask your teams questions such as, “How can we interact in a way that shows we’re invested in each other as a person?”
And make their business personal.