What Is Professionalism?

by Lyn McDonell

I have always been interested in the concept of professionalism – a word often used but rarely defined. What is professionalism anyway? I believe that professionalism is intimately related to accountability, intent and results.  It is not about dressing better -- although yes, looking good helps create confidence.  It is more elusive -- and important. Jane Bozarth, a blogger in the training and development field, asked her readers to define professionalism and crowd-sourced the following definition:

“Approaching work in the spirit of collegiality, commitment and accountability. Putting in an honest day’s effort while caring about the work and working towards successful accomplishment of it. Doing things well even under challenging circumstances, and carrying out our work because it is the work we accepted to do.”

I’d add to this workmanlike characterization to say that professionalism is about being accountable for results, not activities. It is doing things correctly and well even if it takes more effort. It is ensuring that the best decisions are made even if that makes one unpopular.  It is applying high standards as one references an ingrained body of knowledge and ethics.  Professionalism means choosing accountability and taking action to do the right thing.

Board of directors and senior management teams establish a culture of professionalism in an organization by their own behavior and words.  And, in a culture of professionalism, an organization can leap forward and become extraordinary.

~ by Lyn McDonell

Photo Credit - Victor1558

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