What does it mean to be a professional

Professionalism – a word embraced by many but demonstrated by too few. The root of the word is “Profess” which means both to claim a quality (often insincerely) and to affirm faith.

Increasingly the word professional is wheeled out to defend insincere and weak leadership and governance. Too often the belief around a board table is that an expert (of any sort) is preferable to the true professional. So what can one expect from the real deal? What are the characteristics that embody the qualities of real professionalism?

To be professional

  • Keep it simple
  • Treat others with respect and dignity – and above all common courtesy
  • Be interested in other people and their ideas – dismissing ideas out of hand is a sign of your own weakness
  • Embrace change
  • Seek to broaden your knowledge
  • Seek new knowledge
  • Keep abreast of policy/compliance/legal matters
  • Public comportment
  • Take responsibility for others (and their actions) – It wasn’t me/Blaming others is not very professional.
  • Aim for excellence and to inspire
  • Support and facilitate opportunities for others. Both through sharing your knowledge and mentoring
  • Consult widely, be aware.
  • Integrity and discretion are the watch words of the professional individual
  • Be enthusiastic and take pride in what you do
  • Be prepared
  • Be conscious of sustainability
  • Be empathetic
  • Allow your actions to be those which inspire others