Business Isn’t Business

I was recently in a conversation with someone who said, “Business is business.” My accountability antenna immediately went up. I very much dislike that phrase as well as the closely related, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Neither of those phrases connect to accountability or accountable leadership in any way. Let’s discuss.

When someone says, “Business is business” or “It’s not personal, it’s just business”, I find that to be code for, “I’m about to make a decision that is all about benefitting me. The decision is going to be one-sided, you’re probably not going to like it, and I don’t really care about how it affects you.” They are saying that they do not have to be accountable to or for anyone.

I find this phrase is commonly used by the most inept and least emotionally intelligent leaders and businesspeople. This way of thinking lacks accountability and is strictly short-term because it does not show any respect for the other people who are involved or affected by the outcome of the decision. This is simply a way of justifying greed and short-term gains.

The reality is that a short-term gain may not be, and usually is not, the best long-term decision. And it will not produce the biggest long-term gain. Short-term thinking rarely supports accountability in an organization.

When an accountable leader takes on the commitment to “It’s All of Us” they fully understand that if you fail, they fail and only if you win do they win. This type of accountable leadership recognizes the value of people and the value of relationships. When the accountable leader secures the success of others then other people will want to help that accountable leader.

Any conversation between two people is personal, even if they are discussing business. How you speak to someone always matters. Any decision that an accountable leader makes is always in the best interest of everyone because the accountable leader knows that the outcomes of those decisions is very personal to the people they impact.

So, business isn’t just business at all. Successful business yields positive results for all parties. The accountable leader fully understands this, and it always shows in their actions and decisions.


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