A Pig in a Suit Still Stinks

A professional environment is a pig sty that slows development, blocks innovation, and belittles authenticity.

If professionalism is about competence, count me in. But there’s a difference between being professional and professional environments.

People protect themselves with distance, decoration, and disconnection in professional environments.

Protocol dominates professional environments.

Suit and tie.

The purpose of a professional environment is exclusion.


The purpose of a professional environment is exclusion. It’s easy to rule out people if they don’t wear the right clothes, use the right language, or know the right people.

The good ole boys club emerged from professional environments.

People on the fringes languish in professional environments.


You can look like a professional and be incompetent.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain

Given the choice between no clothing and clothes, choose clothing. But a pig in a suit still stinks.

Professional environments promote charades that shield higher ups.  


You never met an innovator that wore a suit and tie.

A person who dresses professionally only masquerades as an innovator.

Every culture has rules to live by. Family culture tends to avoid tough conversations, for example. The rule for professional environments is fakery trumps reality.


Professional environments stimulate shallow relationship. Authentic relationships strike a blow to the charade of impression management.

Being relational isn’t being unprofessional.

Relational environments:

  1. People are judged by their competence and contribution, not their parking spot.
  2. Time with the boss energizes people.
  3. Authenticity works. People know each other’s strengths AND weaknesses.
  4. People feel like they belong.
  5. Tough conversations may be delayed too long.
  6. Co-workers are friends.
  7. Success is more about teams than superstars. Competition is friendly, not cutthroat. People compete to improve themselves, not to crush co-workers.

What’s uncomfortable about relational environments?

How might leaders nudge their teams, boards, and themselves toward authentic relationship?