▼ Understanding True Professionalism & UN Core Values▼
Of course, this blog is first and foremost for my own development and that of loved ones as well as those who share similar values, or want to improve. But I often get questions about my views on professionalism. And I always begin thusly: Like anything else of consequence, you can't discuss professionalism in any environment where there is no psychological safety; where civility is not valued, where emotions easily run high, and where truth is tiptoed around like an adulterous milkman and others lay in ambush to misinterpret, purposely misconstrue or catastrophize what is said for personal gain. And we also already addressed the fact that professionalism isn't about how loud one is either.
Like leadership, professionalism is not a position but a constantly evolving yet consistently positive set of qualities seen through the prism of habits and skills that one commits to honing over a lifetime. And it almost always beautifully complements their passion and purpose.
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Why then, is it important to understand words like honesty and integrity aren't just fine words? That professionalism isn't a coat of pretense you put on to suit an occasion and take off when it suits you? Sure, you can play the game. But that makes you fake, which reminds me of a call I received from a woman claiming to work for the Shanghai branch of architecture giant SOM (Skidmore, Owing & Merrill). She was articulate but throughout the conversation I was a little taken aback by the verbose, self-assured promises, professions and affirmations she kept making in the name of the organization. As quickly as she appeared on my (telephone and e-mail) radar, she was 'gone with the wind'. And there was no professional acknowledgement when we attempted ensuring she had everything she'd previously requested.
Here, you have both discourtesy and failure of accountability that otherwise wouldn't be tolerated from a corporate executive working for the U.S. arm of the same organization. And so, I once told a Chinese Mainlander: finding professionalism here in China is a rarity although occasionally, I catch a glimpse. And it makes no difference whether it's an MNC based in Shanghai or Beijing. Personally though, I don't believe China is currently culturally wired for the kind of professionalism you crave. And I say that with tremendous humility and respect. That's what I say.
Honesty is all about speaking the truth without calculating or factoring in consequences, rewards, or risks. Not to be confused with Honesty, Integrity, which we discussed in both 4a and 4b of this Series and as you'll see below: is one of the 3 Core Values of the United Nations. It is derived from a person or organization's (moral) code of honor and/or (professional) ethics below which they resolve to never stoop, lest they compromise, devalue, debase or jeopardize their identity, dignity, mission and/or vision.
For example, fact: I work only for certain organizations sharing my values and have resigned from a company where a "supervisor" physically threatened and verbally abused me among a litany of professional improprieties and violations (listed under 3 Core Values below). Fact: Professionalism is a primary reason for moderating my web content. Others include the expectation of civility, maturity, good/positive humor or camaraderie and constructive (not destructive) criticism. That, and nothing less. All unauthentic ("gotcha-type") communication attempts are filtered out so that the humanity, dignity and importantly productivity (including the more important priorities or direction/goals) of the individual, artist or visitor on the other side of the pixel is preserved, as is the positive energy or narrative they're trying to put out.
Well, Hans Hofmann encapsulates the underlying purpose-driven aim best: “The ability to simplify means eliminating the unnecessary so that the necessary can speak.”
The United Nations doesn't believe in the fallacious notion of "respect must be earned".
Neither do I.
When you begin with unconditional respect for humanity or an employee, you have a better chance of exciting passion in your employees or people you come into contact with; achieving productivity, high performance on the scale of companies on the Fortune 500 or 'Most Admired' list, say. And lasting human relations and cooperation which happens to be a by-product of mutual understanding is also realized. Those are the values that foster peace, whatever the context.
As the Indian Proverb goes: “There is no point in cutting off a person's nose and then giving them a rose to smell” which is the problem with all things unauthentic or disrespectful.
Now to the selective and partial eye/conscience: notice what follows doesn't say "treats people we like, favor or drink beer with" but “ALL”. And now the 3 Core Values of the United Nations followed by Core Competencies on which the foregoing habits, skills and qualities (esp, Professionalism) rest
Professionalism is all about readily observable and consistent behaviors and attitudes that form the basis of a person's character and in turn drives their high standard of performance. Moreover, that standard isn't just pulled out of thin air, hence the relevance of Henry Ward Beecher's exhortation: “Hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.”
You cannot just go from nothing to something. And businesses, high performers and the United Nations recognize this. That is why we have Core Competencies.
Recapitulation: True Professionalism begins & ends with a Positive Attitude
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