“Why on earth would you be a different person at home to the one you are at work?” asked Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia as she gave a speech recently.
Her words really resonated with me. At Virgin, we want to foster a culture where people can be themselves, feel good about being at work and be driven by the purpose to change business for good.
Many corporate cultures try and mould people into how they want them to be rather than seeking out their strengths and helping them fulfil their potential – which, in turn, is good for business.
It’s also important to be able to have fun at work – we spend so much of our lives working, we need to be able to laugh along the way. Virgin is a family business – we smile together when things go right and find ways to solve problems and support each other when they don’t.
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Jayne-Anne told the story of how Virgin Money began and how purpose has been the driving force ever since day one.
She said: “Everything went wrong the night before the business opened. We got all sorts of computer systems plugged in and we wanted to make it perfect - and then some electrician came in and pulled the plug out and the whole thing went down.
“We then looked outside and it was snowing. We wanted to open the phones lines at 8am and I was thinking ‘God we haven’t got any systems, no people and it’s snowing, are we really going to get this thing of the ground?’
“And as the daylight dawned and I looked out of the window, all I could see was this trail of people, young people that we have just got on a temporary contract, walking in through the snow.”
She said they were all determined to be there for 8 o’clock because they had all agreed that together they were going to set up a business that would change financial services forever.
It was then she said she realised that nobody comes to work just to answer the telephone or fill in an application form, that’s “the boredom bit”. We all come to work to make a difference.
If you’re driven by purpose then you can enjoy what you’re doing and feel comfortable being yourself. Only by being yourself at work can you truly flourish and do your best. If you believe in what you’re doing, it makes you push to be better, to exceed expectations and drive innovation.
I agree with Jayne-Anne - why on earth would you want to do it any differently?