The Pro’s Code: Use Appropriate, Consistent Behavior

Part 12 in a series on professionalism.

Criteria 12: Appropriate, consistent behavior. Knows the limits, and sets those boundaries. Is mindful of temper and behavior.

images-2When I was in elementary school, excellence was acknowledged with a gold star. When you received two, three or ten gold stars, you knew you were performing consistently well.

What if we could give gold stars in the workplace for best behavior? Consistently good behavior? Would that small visual symbol change the way we see ourselves as an employee, contributor or leader?

High potential employees who are being groomed for senior management positions are chosen because they practice appropriate, consistent behavior. The higher up in the organization you go, the greater the responsibility for managing and motivating others. You can’t be irrational or erratic like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Those are the people who are in a good mood one moment and in a foul mood the next. You never know who you are going to encounter, Jekyll or Hyde. This type of behavior from a senior manager impacts performance and morale. That’s why companies look for people who know how to set boundaries and are consistent in their behavior.

No matter where you go or what you do, people are watching you, silently observing how you lead a meeting, interact with others, motivate your work team or handle a crisis. They also observe you online through social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Are your comments or content helpful to others (posting a link to an article on leadership) or repetitive rants and emotional outbursts on any given topic? Rather than being called a hothead, whiner, control freak or immature baby, wouldn’t you prefer being described as a team player, bridge builder, innovator or class act? It’s up to you.

The gold star equation is quite simple:

Appropriate + consistent behavior = career advancement.

The Pro’s Code: Be Humble

Part 11 in a series on professionalism.

Criteria 11: Be humble. Not boastful, self-important or arrogant.

UnknownIn December, 2013, I created a blog post on the topic of humility. It fits so perfectly into my series on professionalism, it deserves repeating.

When Time Magazine honored Pope Francis as its Person of the Year, it begged the question, Is humility hip?

I doubt that the average person today ponders the meaning of the word humility much, let alone embraces its virtues. Society is more likely to reward materialism, greed, vanity and pride. How refreshing to know that there are still some people in the world today who not only value humility…they live it. The pontiff’s practicing humility demonstrates his concern for the greater good rather than living the good life himself.

Humility is defined as: The state or quality of being humble. Humble is defined as: Having or showing a consciousness of one’s shortcomings; lowly; unpretentious; to lower in condition or rank; to lower in pride; make modest. (Reference: Webster’s New World Dictionary).

Consider how different the world would be if leaders practiced humility. For one thing, they would admit their flaws, their mistakes, their humanity. They would practice transparent communication and eliminate hidden agendas. They would lead by example. They would think of others first. Rather than tell us how great they are, they would recognize and reward greatness in everyone. As a result, we could come together on common ground and work in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation. It would be like a breath of fresh air.

I, for one, support the notion that humility is hip. It would be grand to live in a world where humility is king (or Pope). It begins with self-reflection and one question: How am I practicing humility in my life?

The Pro’s Code: Be Confident

Part 10 in a series on professionalism.

Criteria 10: Confident. Shows high confidence in abilities.


The White House

For some, being confident is simply part of who they are. They were “born” confident. For others, finding one’s own confidence can be a painful process. The good news is that at any stage of your life, you can build self-confidence. It begins with believing in yourself and your abilities.

One contemporary leader who exudes confidence is First Lady Michelle Obama. Since assuming this position in 2009, Michelle Obama has shattered old thinking and expanded the role of First Lady in a dynamic, caring way. She used a relatively new designer, Jason Wu, to create her memorable inaugural wardrobe. A big part of her style has included baring her arms in sleeveless dresses, something that is still talked about today in the media. Why? Because her biceps and triceps look amazing! She also had the confidence to take on important issues like education, health and wellness and the advancement of women and girls. The First Lady had the confidence to break out a dance with Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon to launch her “Let’s Move” campaign to get Americans healthy. Other initiatives include Joining Forces in 2011, Reach Higher in 2014, and Let Girls Learn in 2015.

Confident people are doers and make a positive difference in their community, workplace, family and home. They don’t second guess their actions. Imagine what you could do if you put your mind to it.

Great thought leaders and inspirational speakers have told us “You can do it!” for decades. From Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking to Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich to W. Clement Stone’s Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, these seminal books have transformed people’s lives. Try telling that to someone who feels “less than.” Less than perfect. Less than whole. One of the great lessons I learned from The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander was this: Never compare yourself to someone else. For people who see themselves as less than, their thinking begins with comparing themselves to others who seem to have everything they don’t. It’s deficit thinking. Confidence comes from within. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, remarkably, miraculously, anything is possible. To achieve professional presence, you must have confidence and carry yourself with integrity and grace.

Here are two tips that I share in my workshops:

  1. Begin and end every day in a positive way.
  2. Shift negative self-talk into positive self-talk.

Believe that you can do anything, have the confidence in yourself and your abilities, and you will experience positive results in your life!


The Pro’s Code: Be Diplomatic

Part 9 in a series on professionalism. Criteria 9: Diplomatic. Handles problems, deals with issues with finesse and discretion. Maintains calmness even when engaged in the most heated discussions. 1FlagsThe word “diplomatic” usually conjures up images of high-ranking officials in the State Department or the United Nations who expertly know international policy, often serving as ambassadors or cultural attaches. Yet being diplomatic isn’t reserved just for diplomats. It is a welcome quality – and necessity – for any business professional. To be diplomatic, a person must be keenly aware of everything that is at play in the environment or culture and step lightly before any actions are taken. Other people’s feelings or concerns are considered before information is presented or important decisions or actions are made. Anyone serving in the diplomatic corps today must be qualified for the position, and the list of criteria is a long one. How are your diplomatic skills? The higher up the career ladder you go, the more important diplomacy becomes to your position. The picture changes as you accept greater career responsibilities. You may be responsible for a multimillion (or billion) dollar budget as well as hundreds or thousands of staff members. Decisions are more difficult. Personalities can be more challenging. Accountability lies with you. Try on for size – just for one moment – being more diplomatic in your daily work:

  • Present yourself with integrity.
  • Consider the needs of others.
  • Think through how to handle sensitive information.
  • Decide when – or how – to discuss a specific topic.
  • Have facts easily accessible to present a solid case.
  • Be aware of yourself, others and the environment or culture in which you are working.
  • Determine any potential areas of potential dispute and negotiation.
  • Choose your words carefully.

Being diplomatic is more than simply sparing people’s feelings. It requires integrity, grace and poise. How do you measure up?