Once upon a time I believed to be successful in business, I needed to look, act and think in a corporate way. That was a mistake.
It didn’t come naturally but I tried to live up to it anyway.
On more than one occasion the disconnect between who I thought I was expected to be and who I was led to disastrous consequences for the business.
I didn’t deliver my best work, and I wasn’t invited back. A hard lesson learnt.
Over the years my beliefs and behaviour have changed. Here are some reasons why.
My company, Balance at Work, exists to help people find more joy in their work. That includes joy for me and my team too.
Business for us is always ‘human to human’.
It’s not B2B or B2C.
If we were more corporate, we’d be attracting people who value a corporate attitude and approach more than we value those things.
Working with them might benefit us financially, but how could it bring us more joy?
Organisations and individuals looking for the services we provide face a vast array of pre-packaged options, but we want to be more than just another standard option.
But we’re not different just for the sake of difference.
We’ll tell clients what we really think. We’ll also tell them if we don’t think we’re a good fit for them.
Recently, I was planning a leadership development project with the MD of a long-standing, successful organisation in financial services.
When he told me they pride themselves on being ‘non-corporate’, I knew I was in the right place.
We stand out because of who we are and what we do, not because of who we think you want us to be.
Being corporate goes against our purpose, our ‘why’.
There are business suits in my wardrobe, but I rarely wear them. I also don’t wear heels because I don’t like them. Or make-up. Or dye my hair.
Not one of these things gives me joy, and I’m fortunate to have choices.
Could you make choices that better reflect who you are? Here are some suggestions:
The biggest benefit will be that you’ll get to spend more of your time working with people whose company you actually enjoy.
Trying to be something you’re not creates an artificial barrier that pushes people away.
Your discomfort feeds their discomfort, and you don’t get the chance to know them. Build generous connections instead.
You can learn to love rejection. Really!
Be grateful if you lose a client because you’re not corporate enough for them. If you’re anything like me, that relationship wasn’t going to work anyway.
Appreciate the learning and move on. What has being less corporate meant for our business?
Remember: You don’t have to be ‘corporate’ to be professional, and by being true to yourself you’ll find more joy in your work.
This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.
"In a challenging role in a new organisation, coaching with Paula was the ideal time to reflect, problem-solve, brainstorm options and arm me with next steps in all areas - from staffing, internal politics and relationships to tackling key initiatives. The sessions were by video and face to face, both equally effective. Using video allowed for easy integration of sessions into my busy workdays without any hassle. Paula’s style of coaching quickly built trust so I felt safe being vulnerable, quickly getting to the heart of a number of issues and propelling me and my performance forward significantly!"
- Executive GM, People and Culture
"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things."
Sam Refshauge - CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
Jessica Hill - Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
Chris Bulmer - National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
Benoit Ribe - HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead employee and team development sessions."
Shaun Stanfield - Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet