February 20, 2020
“He is a thorough professional” I have come across this refrain multiple times, when describing someone with some distinguishing qualities.
I never really thought deeply about what being a professional meant. What makes someone professional or unprofessional ?
I understood this term as an adjective in an intuitive way, without knowing what it meant specifically.
A few years back , I came across an amazing book authored by Subroto Bagchi, that goes by the same title that I have chosen to use for this blog- The Professional.
A conventional definition of a Professional is someone with the skills and knowledge to do an assigned job and get remunerated in return.
Beyond the definition, this book lays out the behavioral code of conduct that anyone aspiring to be professional, should live by.
Even after so many years, I vividly remember the 3 traits that make one a true professional.
- The ability to work unsupervised. In our typical work environment , productivity of knowledge workers is measured in terms of economic value. Can we be productive without being supervised in any way? Only those with an entrepreneurial mindset of full accountability can think of completing stuff without the need for any supervision. This is the hall mark of a good professional.
- The second trait actually stems from the first. The ability to certify the completion of any task. I should be able to deliver the best output that the task deserves without being supervised. The author illustrates this point through a brilliant metaphor. A Professional operates like an artist-e.g like a painter. Only the painter knows when the painting is complete and does not require any more flourishes. Its the same for anyone who wants to stake claim to being a professional – A Product manager putting together a business proposal or a software engineer writing error free code or a surgeon stitching a patient back.
- The last point relates Integrity. A true professional should have a moral and ethical compass that helps in shaping personal behavior in different circumstances.
- A professional always follows whatever rules are laid out.
- A professional uses fair judgement where rules don’t exist.
- A professional does not do what is expedient or convenient. IF there is any doubt, the professional will seek counsel and advise from someone better informed.
- Whenever exercising any choice a professional will ask himself/herself this personal question ” will my action stand public scrutiny without embarrassing me or my family”
This book and its key messages have been a guiding torch for what I strive to be every day. I recommend this as a must read for anyone seeking clarity around choices to be made at the workplace.