We all know that it’s important to be professional if we want to have a successful career, but what does that actually mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person”. Despite the obvious differences among the various professions, it is possible to identify certain characteristics and qualities that are very common to all profession to be a “successful professional”. Most successful professionals have several traits in common. It doesn’t matter if you work for yourself or a boss, it is expected that you will be professional in the course of business.
Following 12 key elements of professionalism can make you a successful professional.
- Honesty and Integrity. “The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty.”- Zig Ziglar. To get success in your profession, you need to exhibit two great qualities, those are honesty and integrity. This is the key, to become a good and successful professional at work. You must avoid even the smallest of lies at all costs. A mistake is a part of work; do not try to hide it. Be bold and courageous to admit it. Also, always try to be impartial; keep personal bias and intolerances out of the professional world. Honesty and integrity at work also creates a kind of positive energy and boldness within you.
- Be punctual and Manage Your Time. “Punctuality is the soul of business.”-Thomas Chandler Haliburton. Being punctual is not only good for your profession but also it’s going to help you in personal life. You should be at work when you are expected to be there. Inform beforehand if you are going to be late or absent for some obvious reason. Also, focus on improving your time management skills, so that you’re always in control.
- Take your profession seriously. Take your work seriously. Do not take it just as “a job”, rather take it “as profession”. To reach the success within your career, you must feel that your career is a significant part of your life. Pay attention and show respect to the cultural norms in your organization, and follow them. It will help you to love your organization and make you a successful professional. Always aim to give the best you can.
- Be Competent. Learn to be expert and effective in your work. To be a successful professional, you need to know your job roles inside and out. You should not make excuses, rather focus on finding solutions. Being a professional, you need to get the job done. Attain required skill of your job and gain experience; thus you can become competent. Spend the necessary time and effort to review your work, so that it is correct and all the details are properly completed. Overall, learn to be expert and effective in your work.
- Honor Your Commitments. Remember two important factors to be a successful professional – One, Commitment beyond yourself and Two, Commitment to Quality. If you commit to something, then follow through with it. Whenever, you make a promise or commitment to anyone (eg., boss, colleagues, or clients), you should keep it. If you feel that you won’t be able to meet the deadline, let the person know as soon as possible.
- Be flexible. “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”- Tony Robbins. You should be flexible enough to adjust objectives, change plans and work to resolve problems by finding solutions. Your workday might formally end at 5 p.m., but if staying an hour more can give a better result to your project, you should do it unless that’s truly impossible.
- Be pleasant and polite. You should be courteous and have good manners in your professional arena. You will have to work with people whom you just don’t care for, and even with people who aren’t very nice to you. But, be kind and polite to everyone you come in contact. You should listen; be open to and respects ideas other than your own. Master the habit of apologies for any errors or misunderstandings. Be friendly even when your colleague makes a mistake. These issues make a significant impact in your profession.
- Don’t Stop Learning. Develop a love for learning. There is no ending of learning. You may believe, but learning is a skill that itself must be learned. Take part in seminars; read something new every day; surf the net. Even learn from your mistake and from others. Don’t let your knowledge and skills get outdated, rather keep yourself up-to-date.
- Get feedback on your work. In your work, you will make mistakes. Get feedback on your work, so that you can identify your mistakes. You should have acceptance of constructive criticism. Getting angry or defensive or otherwise taking it personally will take you down. Remember, getting feedback on your work – even critical feedback – is part of the job; It’s not personal.
- Respect Others. “Be modest, be respectful of others, try to understand.”-Lakhdar Brahimi. Genuine professionals show respect for the people around them, no matter what their role or situation. Always be humble and respect others. Remember, you don’t have to trample over other people to become successful. No one wants to associate themselves with a pompous prick who is only interested in themselves. You may not necessarily need someone now, how do you know that they won’t be useful to you in the future? Also, respect is reciprocal. You are respected only when you respect others.
- Possess Ambition. If you have lacks ambition or the goal to succeed, it would be difficult to become a successful professional. To be a good professional, you must strive to continually raise the bar and do better than previous efforts. However, ambition without goals or a focus doesn’t achieve success. You must identify goals, to get success in your profession. You should have benchmarks and other important objectives in your career. Goals and objectives may be both long and short term.
- Integration Of Professional And Personal Life. You must understand that your professional work is a part of your life and not the whole of your life. You would not neglect other aspects of your life (eg., family, culture, religion) due to excessive dedication to professionalism. To be a successful professional you have to make a balance between these two.
Essentially, being professional is about seeing beyond the immediate needs. By thinking about the long term perceptions of you and your business, rather than a quick dollar or score, you are likely to behave professionally.