Well, if you are a current student in or a graduate of the AU PMBA program (P=Professional), you are. But how does a “professional” act or behave? What distinguishes a person who acts “professionally” from one who doesn’t? A dictionary is always a good starting point. Merriam-Webster defines a professional as, “One characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession.” So what are the standards of one who is a business or management professional?
One of my favorite writers in the Indianapolis Business Journal is Frank Basile. Formerly an up-from-the-trenches Senior VP with Indianapolis-based Gene B. Glick Company, Mr. Basile is “retired,” is a world traveler, a professional speaker, a noted philanthropist to the Indianapolis arts scene, and a not-for-profit leader. Example: He is the acting head of Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts while the board searches for a permanent CEO.
Twenty years ago* he wrote an IBJ article on “professionalism” which I clipped and have shared with some students—perhaps you—before I retired. Here, in a condensed version, are 12 qualities which, taken as a whole, Mr. Basile feels define a “professional.”
- A professional sets and prioritizes specific goals with timelines that give direction to her efforts and help her channel her time, talent, and effort most productively.
- A professional manager also helps the people on his team reach their goals both individually and as a team.
- A professional has a positive attitude, is self-motivated, is energized by the pursuit of worthy goals, and energizes those around him.
- A professional is excited by her job, loves to come to work, sets a fast pace, and that rubs off on team members.
- A professional recognizes time is finite and tries to maximize what he has available by putting time towards the most important goals first.
- A professional is skilled in human relations and deals effectively with people at all levels. As President Teddy Roosevelt put it over 100 years ago: “The most important single ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to deal with people.”
(CW aside: Every MBA ought to read Dr. John Maxwell’s little gem Relationships 101: What Every Leader Needs To Know.)
- A professional possesses effective communication skills including speaking, writing, listening, and body language. Dr.Peter Drucker (I hope you know that name) says, “The ability to express yourself clearly is one of the most important skills you can possess.”
- A professional does not possess pride of idea ownership but is open to suggestions from all sources and is flexible enough to adjust plans to incorporate valid ones. She recognizes good ideas can come from many places.
- A professional has both technical competence and very high levels of integrity and ethical practice.
- A professional continually upgrades his management skills through study and practice. He recognizes the truth in the statement, “School is never over for the true professional.”
- A professional continually stays current with the technical aspects of her job and industry and has an in-depth understanding of what is pertinent to her organization. She is a life long learner and avoids becoming obsolete at all costs.
- A professional exhibits tenacity and perseverance in pursuit of her goals. She realizes most successes come only after much effort. Thomas Edison, prolific inventor and founder of GE, stated his success was due to 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
Just knowing of and thinking about the above qualities will not make one a professional. We must practice them over and over and over. Writer Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “We form habits, then habits form us.”
Ancient philosopher Aristotle said, “We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those qualities because we acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not a single act, but a habit.”
Given Frank Basile’s above qualities of a professional, are you one? How do you rate on each quality and in total? A, B, C, F? Being a straight “A” MBA student has nothing to do with being an A-level professional, but has everything to do with right behavior— done over and over and over. If you honestly can’t rate yourself as an “A” on one or more of these qualities, NOW is the time to get after it. Everyone can—and should—try to improve. Good wishes to you.
-Dr. Charles Waldo, Professor of Marketing (Retired)
Dr. Waldo is a guest blogger for the AU MBA Program.
*IBJ March 4-10, 991
p.s.—I strongly urge any MBA making his or her living in Central Indiana (especially in sales, marketing or PR) to subscribe to the IBJ and read it cover to cover each week. I’ve been a subscriber for over 30 years and my weekends would not be complete without it. There is also an online version.