The word “professionalism” can often conjure up images of a cold, distant, brusque person in a nondescript suit. Many people have the sense that being “professional” is exactly the opposite of demonstrating empathy and emotional intelligence.
Professionalism is a key soft skill.
And it doesn’t require you to be inauthentic, distant, or detached. Professionalism is simply the ability to conduct yourself with responsibility, integrity, accountability, and excellence.
We’ve all seen a child throw a full-on temper tantrum, kicking and screaming, as a parent tries in vain to help the situation. Maybe you’ve been in that situation too. As an onlooker, I always have empathy for whoever is attempting to communicate with a child in the middle of a meltdown. It’s impossible to reason with them, and most of the time the only option is to ride it out.
Imagine working with a leader who was just as unpredictable and volatile as a toddler at the grocery store – a person who could fly off the handle or lose their cool in front of anyone at any moment. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Working with adults who don’t have a handle on their emotions can often feel like trying to reason with a bad-tempered child. This is why developing emotional intelligence is an essential part of being a successful leader.
Acting with professionalism also means communicating effectively with others.
It’s important to keep your cool when you’re stressed or under pressure to complete a task. Unloading all your negative feelings at work with your team will create negative consequences.
“Keep your aces in their places,” as the old saying goes. Handle pressure in a healthy way by talking with your top team members so they can assist with resolving problems before they escalate. This will maintain your professionalism and help you cope with mounting stress.
Professionalism involves what may seem to be small acts, such as:
- Always reporting to work on time and returning promptly from breaks
- Dressing appropriately
- Show good judgment
- Speaking clearly and politely to colleagues, customers, and clients
- Striving to meet high standards for one’s work
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” –Warren Buffet