Developing a Corporate Persona

The major transition from school to work includes developing a “corporate persona.” A corporate or work persona is defined as the personality one projects in public, oftentimes specifically tailored to particular settings. One can have many different versions of him or herself, acting like a chameleon so-to-speak, and adjust to surroundings to adapt successfully. However, we live in an entirely different animal kingdom, where your survival skills depend on your attitudes and professionalism.

At the same time, many of my millennial peers have expressed a distaste for the notion of corporate personas. Sliding on a tie can feel like a noose for some, but it’s helpful to consider the useful strategies behind the outfit changes.


Three faces and personas I can wear

Growing up with the mantra, “Always be yourself,” has followed us into the adult worlds. I wholeheartedly agree that one should never sacrifice his or her own personal identity or values, but I do believe that is oftentimes for an individual’s own benefit to showcase certain traits in appropriate settings.

While a chameleon can change the color of its exterior to adapt, it ultimately remains true to itself as a reptile. In the corporate jungle, it is helpful to transition to the suit and tie when we clock in, even if we would never want to wear those looks off the clock.

According to Forbes magazine, there are seven behavioral factors that can affect one’s own corporate persona:

  • Purpose
  • Risk-taking
  • Values
  • Work environment
  • Organizational support
  • Professional development
  • Rewards and recognition.

Each individual values these various aspects differently, which thus affects their interactions with their co-workers and work environment. Identifying key motivators and behaviors unique to each person can significantly support career and leadership development.

In addition, knowing your attitudes and preferences can help you find the perfect niche in your job search. Understanding what types of atmospheres suit your work personality best can expedite the process of finding a workplace that feels right. Taking a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Work Personality Index and other psychometric evaluations can shed helpful light on yourself and your needs. Take some time to reflect on your home and work personalities, and how you may best seamlessly function between both.

While it may feel difficult leaving your home, party, or friend-based personality at your organization’s door, it’s essential to remember that there is a difference between sacrificing and adjusting yourself. It is critical that you are not leaving the workday feeling drained and depressed by your behaviors in the work environment. Your happiness is ultimately most important, but we must understand that our career success may contribute to our comfort at home as well.

Overall, developing a corporate persona will likely be worth it for you in the long run. Consider how you can transfer your unique qualities into an appearance that exudes your individuality while remaining attractive to those in your industry. Play a social experiment and test how people interact with you differently depending on different faces you wear– I’ll be sharing my own results in an article coming soon.