Updated July 2020
At Giant Leap Consulting, we understand the need for professionalism. In fact, we offer an entire professionalism workshop which highlights the following 7 characteristics. These focal points are designed to help you and your company improve professionalism across the board.
7 Keys Ways to Develop Your Professionalism
It all starts with who we are, and how we conduct ourselves. Character is the defining attribute of professionalism.
A key aspect of professional character for anyone—leader, employee, or even client—is integrity. Like bridges, people with high integrity are those who aren’t missing elements of good character. They are honest and ethical in all their dealings, not just at times when it is convenient or when they are being watched. When you have integrity, there’s a high degree of congruence between the values you espouse and your actual behavior.
Remember: the best test of your integrity is how you behave when nobody is watching.
Are you invested in your work? Go-getters, the best (and often most professional) employees, take an interest in strategy and direction. They seek out tough job assignments. They take responsibility for their own careers. They strive to learn new skills and capabilities to deliver higher levels of value. They want success for their teammates and themselves. In short, go-getters care—they give a rip!
Be conscious of your professional image. The way in which you physically show up (clothes, hair, tidiness, etc.) will certainly make an impression on the people you meet and those with which you work. A professional appearance is also a way to express consideration for others and a desire to keep them from feeling uncomfortable.
#4 Customer Service
A key mark of a professional is how they treat their customers. Exceeding the expectations of customers should be a part of every company’s mission statement. Great customer service is based on building relationships. Some tips for relationship building include:
- Make friends with clients. There’s an old saying, “Get a customer, make some money. Make a friend, make a fortune.”
- When entertaining, know what you can and can’t do from an ethics standpoint.
- Learn and acknowledge birthdays. Send people birthday cards.
- Send handwritten thank-you notes. Mailed, not emailed.
What you say and how you say it will go a long way to communicate whether or not you are a true professional.
Before meeting with a client for the first time, set yourself up for good and friendly communication. Do upfront research on that person—Google them, use LinkedIn, get to know as much as possible about them. Make a good first impression by looking people directly in the eye, shaking their hand (firmly), and saying their name enough to memorize it. Don’t jump into the business conversation. Find out what they like to do, their passions or interests, and start with that.
Composure means handling stress maturely. It involves being level-headed when dealing with pressure. When in conflict, remember that there are always three sides: my side, the other person’s side, and someplace in the middle that has pieces of each side. Usually, the middle is the truth.
The ability to courageously maintain composure amidst conflict is a key marker of professionalism.
Professionalism requires commitment. It requires maintaining professionalism when it’s temping or easier not to. With clients, show your commitment by following up soon after meetings to recap the outcomes and commit to your action items. It shows you’re conscientious and engaged.
As an employee or leader, YOU must commit to stepping it up!
Commit yourself to the 7 Cs and you will see a difference in how you are perceived and, more importantly, how you feel about your own professionalism.