To me, the word Professional means “Worthy of Trust and Respect”. Without these qualities you’re unlikely to be an effective agent of change and growth in your company.
So here are five (5) qualities that correlate with being a pro . . .
You could call this ‘Knowing Your Stuff’. And while it’s important to know enough to be competent, it’s also about being confident enough to know what you don’t know and being able to admit that.
In my first job, I felt compelled to ‘have all the answers’ . . . until a senior associate replied to a client, “Y’know that’s a good question. I don’t have a clue . . . but let me do some digging into it and I’ll get back to you”. After that, I found it was a ‘strength’ not a ‘weakness’ to accept and acknowledge my limits and commit to learn what I didn’t know but needed to know to grow (what else!) “more professional’ to my clients.
As the recent election showed, differences in position or opinion are perfectly acceptable. If you prefer one candidate over another, it’s because someone had a clear position on what’s important and they didn’t compromise their values to please people or gain a short-term popularity (which you know won’t last!).
You know the term, “Keeping your word”? Well, people do prefer to work with / support / follow people who do what they say. As one staffer at a client told me, “I may not always agree with or like what ______ says we’re going to do, but I know she’ll do it and back me up if I do the same. I can rely on her to create ‘no surprises’ and I really find that attractive!”
This suggests a lack of pretense and that’s what the famous JOHARI Window reveals — that organizations where people are transparent have the smallest facades and ‘blind-spots’ — two factors that correlate with highly effective organizations where communications and productivity are generally very, very high!
This is what you DO when you ARE someone who endorses others on your staff. I used to fly with a great pilot — John H. Phillips, USAF. His greatest compliment to me was, “I’ve got your six”. That was an endorsement that, if the you-know-what should hit the fan . . . I wouldn’t be alone. That kind of support would make me march into the gates of Hell for John –– as I knew he’d do for me. If you can instill that kind of esprit-d-corps in your staff, your competitors won’t be getting much sleep!
This post was inspired by a great post by Sharlyn Lauber AKA the “HR Bartender”
Being a ‘professional’ isn’t what you say you are, it’s something you DO . . . and these 5 qualities are useful benchmarks to judge how well you’re doing it.