Two surprising things all winners have in common

By Tony Cohen, Deloitte’s Global Private Client Leader

I want to make sure every Deloitte Private Client person brings their own personality to work rather than leaving it at reception until home time. I want my team – from trainees to partners – to be themselves, not a representation of the old fashioned view perhaps held by the general public as to how they should be working for one of the Big Four. Fundamentally, this is about winning in the market place.

1) Be yourself

When you pitch to a potential client, what are you selling? The answer is you’re selling yourself, whether pitching to a FTSE 100 company or to an entrepreneur. At Deloitte it’s quite clear: the best client-winning partners have a strong presence and are hugely authentic. These winners are all different but the one thing they share is that they are comfortable in their own skins and happy to go out as themselves. They recognise that they are selling themselves as part of the firm, not the other way round.

Of course, not everyone is at the same level and people need help to achieve this self-confidence. Colleagues preparing to present to partners at key moments in their careers often ask me: “What are you looking for? Tell me what I need to be and I will be it.” The one thing they don’t expect me to say is: “Be yourself: what we want is you – more of you – more of you as an individual. That’s what will further your career.” But that’s my advice because it is people being themselves – not trying to be the perfect something – that makes the difference. I also tell them that failing can happen and the best of us learn from our mistakes.

2) Be entrepreneurial

At Deloitte we encourage an entrepreneurial approach throughout the whole organisation. A winning culture at a professional services firm simply has to be entrepreneurial. For me, that means making things happen as individuals and making the firm more successful. Being yourself is a large part of this because to be entrepreneurial you need to be independent of thought and confident enough to challenge the status quo and drive home your objectives.

The danger is that people assume professional services is just about delivering a product to the client. Delivery is, of course, vital; but it’s just part of the story. We’re a business. We want to be successful. So how can we win new business? In an entrepreneurial culture, everyone should be asking themselves that question, from trainee to chief exec.

Entrepreneurs constantly evaluate and use their initiative and drive and I want to see some of that attitude throughout the office. We want to ensure that people bring their personalities to the office.

My advice to you is the same: be yourself and be brave.


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