Everybody Matters: It’s Not Personal, Only Business

Abhishek Paul
2 min readApr 30, 2019

Continuing my learnings from the book “Everybody Matters”. This is taken from chapter 2. The series began here.

I’ll let Bob Chapman’s words speak for themselves on this topic. “I treated my work and family as two separate challenges and didn’t see any connection between my commitment to being a good husband and father and being a good leader in business. The human side of my growth was confined to my personal life, where I was working hard to be a good steward of the lives entrusted to me. But at work I continued to view people largely as objects and functions. I considered myself a good person and an optimist, but when it came to business, I was very finance-oriented and totally focussed on conventional measures of success: profits, money and power. I did what I felt I had to do to make money; cut costs, lay people off, shut plants down without worrying about the human consequences. It was after all, “it’s not personal, only business”.

We seem to be encouraging people to lead life as split personalities. In fact we reward people who are good at switching between multiple personalities. But at what cost? How can anyone rationalize different value systems and not themselves be affected deeply by it? I hear/see people treat their family members like employees in a business — the tone, the expectations, the giving/withholding of love and affection. It is an ugly and tragic situation.

The human side of business is very often overlooked or dismissed as too soft. But remember this:

  • It takes much more courage to trust people with freedom than to make them obey those in the hierarchy
  • It takes much more creativity to find ways to encourage people to take ownership than to enforce rules
  • It takes much more faith to allow people to make mistakes believing they will get better than it is to monitor every aspect of their behaviour

This isn’t radically new behaviour either— we do with those with our family everyday, but somehow when the context changes to the workplace, we abandon them. Maybe it’s easier to rationalize away poor behaviour and low expectations by adopting the “professional mindset” — but we forget that the opposite of human is inhuman and I’m not sure how many of us want to spend the majority of our life in such an environment. It’s time we embraced the human side boldly!