The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterise or mark a profession or a professional person”; and it defines a profession as “a calling requiring specialised knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation” [i.e., acquired by formal education – belonging or relating to a place of learning, especially a college, university, or academy]
Professionals are known for their specialised knowledge. They have made a deep personal commitment to develop and improve their skills, and, where appropriate, they have the degrees and certifications that serve as the foundation of this knowledge.
Not all areas demand extensive knowledge to practice successfully; and not all professionals have top degrees in their field. What is important is that professionals have worked in a serious, thoughtful and sustained way to master the specialised knowledge needed to succeed in their fields; and that they keep this knowledge up-to-date, so that they can continue to deliver the best work possible.
This implies that professionalism encompasses a number of attributes that identify and describe a professional. All professionals need to take responsibility for themselves and their work. They also need to consider consequences of their actions and the impact on others.
Most people find it easier to list what unprofessional is, giving examples of unprofessional people they have dealt with in the past.
However, it is much easier and more positive to know what to do than not to do.
Aspects of professional behaviour
Some major aspects of professional behaviour are:
- Current Competence – the skills and knowledge to do the job well
- Self-Upgrading – avoid knowledge becoming outdated, seek out ways of staying current
- No excuses, focus on finding solutions
- Commitment beyond self
- Ability to see beyond self
- Willing to share
- Respect for others
- Integrity – known for consistent principles.
- Listen to others
- Rather than trying to publicly hurt or defame someone or their business when feeling ‘wronged’, take more appropriate, objective, non-personal actions
- Impartial – keep subjective bias and intolerance out of the business world
- Demonstrate self-control and don’t cause public arguments and disagreements based on subjectivity and misinformation
- Acceptance of constructive criticism
- Honesty is crucial – avoid even the smallest of lies at all costs
- Follow through with commitments
- Respectful about competing and complementary businesses or people
- Point out individual benefits rather than others perceived faults, as far as possible
- Clear, without being defamatory, using emotion stacking statements or mis-communication
- Avoid conflicts of interest
- Be reliable and dependable
- Be consistent
- Keep personal opinions of people private
- Do what needs to be done, not leaving it for others to do
- Be fair and objective when giving feedback
- Deal with sensitive issues privately
From the above, professionals benefit from feelings of increased self-worth and dignity.
What would you like to add to the list?