The Power of Professionalism
We are given the chance throughout our work life to seize opportunities, whether it is with colleagues day-to-day or in a more formal professional setting such as a sales meeting or an industry conference. I enjoy watching, listening, and learning when these opportunities arise. I love being in the midst of greatness, of technical genius or industry giants – leaders I look up to. I cherish these opportunities and soak them up. Never do I claim to be an expert or purport to know more than those presenting – there is a great deal of respect owed to those who put themselves out there or those who do have expert-level knowledge and skills in whatever area they choose to work.
Opportunity to Learning
While opportunity to learn is great, true learning is evident in implementation. I am often eager to implement, or put into practice what I had learned. But eagerness is not the same as easiness.
Years ago, I sat in an informal (but professional) circle at a conference and talked about the industry in which I worked, HR and Recruiting – plus its associated technologies and advancements. I viewed my responsibility as the leader of that discussion to challenge the others in the circle, to open their minds – to “craft my power” by listening to the groups’ responses, watch them squirm at uncomfortable ideas, and, ultimately — have an honest conversation.
I have, on a very rare occasion used foul language in a blog post – but never, that I can think of, in a presentation. While in the midst of my above referenced presentation, the gentleman to my immediate right, someone who I held in the greatest regard, interrupted me and declared, “Rayanne – you don’t know what the f*%k you are talking about.” Because I am not easily rattled, I moved the conversation on – but my insides were screaming while they tightly folded up. Not because he had sworn or because he had questioned my knowledge, but I think because I held this gentleman in such high regard, with such respect and he had, in just a few words, crushed the professionalism I had tried to establish in an informal setting. And though I was not visibly rattled, he had sucked my power away and with it, some deep-seeded respect.
Timing is Everything
Propitiousness. Understanding that timing is valuable in maintaining professionalism is a power very few, even the greatest leaders, possess. Many meet day-to-day operations day-to-day, instead of planning ahead or really understanding scope and scale. It isn’t easy – it can be staggering to consider and thus, many don’t.
Thinking – strategizing – mindfulness, all imperative for propitious decision making and smooth operations. Many leaders either procrastinate or act too soon – lack of respect, greed, and impatience have caused the end of more businesses than we know. Is there more lost in the process? Can there truly be a time and place for everything? Or is there just not enough time to hone good or credible leadership skills beyond day-to-day operations?
Does Professionalism Make for a Better Leader?
The abilities to lead and also exhibit true confidence are built internally, no outward force or the disrespectful words of others can supersede the power built and maintained from within. I suppose the opposite must then be true. The naysayer sitting to my right who poo-pooed my structure, who messed up my timing, who delighted in the shift he created in the open conversation, only had the power I gave him – in that moment, internally or not. I let it happen. I let it hurt me.
When my children would come home from school saddened or devastated by the mean or inappropriate words of other children, I would tell them that words only have the power you give them. A good reminder, as an adult, as I try to remain professional in the busy, and often less-than professional world of business.
“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” –Tao Te Ching