How would you describe being unprofessional?  Perhaps a boss, colleague or client didn’t control their emotions under stress, disrespected others, gossiped, or failed to do what they said they would do when they said they would do it?

As a leader, how would you handle someone asking for flexible working hours, but then angrily stating that “if they didn’t get their own way, then they would leave”?  In this instance, one manager I know remained calm, and told their employee that they would consider their request and come back to them.  The next day that same employee apologised for their behaviour and even said that if someone had spoken to them that way they would have hit the roof!  Remaining calm and walking away from the situation (whether angry or not), allowed both to reflect and avoid a heated conflict situation.

Have you ever sent an email that you regretted later?  Or provided excuses for a mistake because you hadn’t given the work your best?  We all make mistakes, but learning from them to develop your professional self is essential.

Or is professionalism about showing your expertise, having certificates and specialist knowledge?  These leaders demonstrate commitment to developing and improving their skills, including self-awareness and engagement, but not necessarily academic qualifications.

Here are some other considerations for a leader to demonstrate professionalism in the workplace:

  • Reliability: delivering on promises and managing expectations.
  • Honest and integrity: leaders are transparent and trusted by their team, peers, bosses and customers.  They will not compromise on their values for doing what is right for the right reasons.
  • Learn from mistakes and successes: finding solutions to issues, encouraging an environment for learning
  • Learn from others: professional leaders are not afraid to admit they do not know something, and are happy to ask for help and learn from others expertise.
  • In control: excellent time management and organisational skills, ensuring that they have all the information/documentation etc they need for every meeting or discussion.
  • Self-aware: accountable for their emotions, thoughts, words and actions.  Remain calm, polite and business-like under stress or in conflict situations.
  • Respect: for others emotions and opinions, taking into consideration the motivational and communication needs of others.  Not taking credit for others success, but celebrating it.
  • Manners: even at times of stress, maintaining a high level of manners to no matter who they are or what their role is.
  • Dress code: Dressing appropriately to the business expectation and situation.

Professional leaders are respected and valued in any organisation, and help provide the working environment that encourages motivation, engagement and excellent customer service.  It’s also important for those wanting to progress their career, and be considered for company initiatives and promotions.

Where else do you think developing professionalism would be beneficial?  Would a team work their best for someone they didn’t trust or respect? Would a customer buy from someone who’d previously let them down?

And how can you encourage professionalism in your team?

For more information on developing leadership skills and self-awareness, click on the links.

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