These Still Matter Professionally
Take a look around you and it won’t be difficult to find the following pervasive cultures in business today:
- Rudeness & vulgarity
- Law breaking
- Lack of respect
- Apathy for facts and details
- Public persona differs from private persona
- Tearing down others
And these trends aren’t indigenous to business, as we see them just as much in politics, schools, communities, and even the family.
But when you look carefully, there is still a craving for behaviors that stem from solid character and courtesy. Respect and professionalism are still sought after today, perhaps more so in the midst of the “shock value” “tell-it-like-it-is” “win-at-all-costs” attitudes.
Consider how you could impact your world when your leadership embodies these still-honored traits:
Professionalism. When someone dresses appropriately, talks appropriately, and acts respectfully, people notice. When your language is clean, your behavior is controlled, and you present yourself in a respectable manner, you make others feel good about doing business with you. And you also help them feel good about themselves. It’s sets a positive example and tone for influencing your sphere and what people should expect from you.
Punctuality, even early. Let’s face it, in our hyper-scheduled world, everyone has been late from time to time. But let’s take away those external variables and picture the impact it would have on business and society when more people were on time or early to their work shifts, doctor appointments, and service calls. Want to build a reputable personal brand? Arrive to your appointments 15 minutes early. Service companies can also benefit by scheduling and arriving early instead of the last 20 minutes of the time window you quoted. Have the orders filled and shipped a day ahead of the tracking. Be on the conference call 5-10 minutes early instead of dialing in when the moderator has started. Punctuality sows the respect you have for others who you interact with.
Authenticity. This takes shape in two ways: 1) Being the same person in public as you are in private; 2) Speaking honestly towards people and not hiding information, concerns, or intents. How many companies have met with a long-time business partner only to meet later that week with a competitor to undercut the incumbent? If the incumbent knew of any issues, your relationship would be strengthened by your authenticity; you would be doing them a favor as a trusted partner to help them improve, and letting them know of the decisions you may face if changes aren’t made. Businesses and individuals can only be effective by working together towards goals, and not hiding from each other on their own agendas.
Law-abiding. In my career, I’ve seen individuals carry on the following infractions: Break labor laws. Ignore sanitation and liquor regulations. Lobby to change words in laws to enable them to break a current law. Go against their own internal policies but hold others accountable for those same policies. The list goes on. The by-product of these behaviors is none of those leaders have any credibility in their sphere of influence. When a leader complies with rules and honors the structure of work and society, people will respect them and do likewise. Anything less will lead to anarchy in both professional and private lives.
Meaningful words and speech. Words mean things, whether in speech or in writing. Linguists, authors, and biblical pastors will promote the value and meaning of words. No mis-speaking excuses here. If your words are carefully chosen, and selected to edify rather than blast or tear down, you actually jump a major communication hurdle that others trip over. By working on your spoken and written skills, you can enable others to better understand you, and will heighten the ability for your teams to communicate clearly as well. Speak authentically as well as effectively.
Serving and edifying others. When a division president gets terminated for cheating on the numbers in order to hit a certain metric, they only serve themselves and leave everyone else to pick up the pieces. Serving others means working for the mutual benefit of the team as a whole. Leaders are not islands unto themselves, the connotation of leader means involving self with other people. Servant leadership is not trite or passe, it’s a vital mindset and the core definition of why politicians and police officers are deemed “public servants”. Others before self changes the world every time.
Respect. Many people have the mindset that others need to give them respect first before they give it. That’s like waiting for a boomerang to come back when you haven’t thrown it yourself. Respect is always given first before it can be gained. One study has shown that respect is a by-product of trust and knowledge; the trust must always be present for any respect to be meaningful. Be a trustworthy leader and liberally give respect to everyone to show them how much value they truly have.
Details matter. Conversations such as: “Hudson St versus Hudson Ave, same thing,” “What difference does it make?” Or “We spent $1200 on such-and-such” when it was $1000 may seem insignificant, but they convey apathy to the small facts. Lack of care for details destroys credibility, and many times communicates incorrect information that may have harmful consequences. Details can trip up if we focus too compulsively on them, but can also trip us up if we ignore them, such examples being the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in the 1980’s. Take care of the little things, they always impact the larger picture.
If our collective leadership embodies these mindsets that are still valued today, we can transform our worlds into something truly remarkable. Professionalism still matters, and those who positively impact their world and subsequent generations of leaders are still in high demand.