I was originally going to write this at my 4 month mark, but I got bislazy. When I was going to write this I thought that would be an incredibly long, and it still might, because you know professionalism is this super complicated thing. Side note: I wrote that with a sarcastic tone not to say that I have completely figured out professionalism and I now the best professional that ever lived; I say that mostly because people make it out to be this big scary thing. I was honestly scared going into my first corporate job after college. I felt like I had to know everything and be the perfect professional, but one thing that my manger told/helped me realize is that we are all sponges and we should never stop absorbing information and growing, because a sponge that becomes dry will eventually be thrown out. Okay, back to my intro. After about 5 months of weekly meeting with my AMAZING manager Anna D. in which she routinely dropped knowledge bombs and answered all my questions, and I’m not just saying that because she might read this, I realized that professionalism/leadership comes down to 1 1/2 things: Authenticity and Adaptability.
This is the key to professionalism and leadership. I can go on and on about this, but I want you to take a second and think of your worst manger or your worst co-worker. What made them the absolute worst? Most of the time it was because they were fake. Authenticity cannot be faked. You can fake “passion”, you can have the gold medal in pretending to work, but it is really hard to fake who you truly are. I think this really affect me because in my mind I have always thought there was a “This is what a professional is” mold out there and all I had to do was fit myself into it and BAM! Josh is a professional.
Being an authentic (can be read genuine) person means taking time to get to know yourself. Anna knowledge bomb alert: “Be patient with yourself.” I want y’all to understand how this quote affected my life. This was the first time in my life someone told me that it was okay to slow down; okay many people have probably said this to me in some form or another, but in this stage of my life it meant so much more. You see, I’m finally done with the majority of my parent’s and society’s this what you need to be an adult checklist. This is the time in my life where all of the decisions are mine alone, and I was afraid that I’d mess up. I was pushing and pushing myself, but I never gave myself a chance to breathe. Being patient with yourself, gives you time to try new things and explore both the world around you and yourself.
Being authentic in a professional sense means understanding who you are and how you interact with people. Who you are should not change depending who you are around or who you are talking to. If authenticity is the key, then integrity is the key ring. Unless you like lose keys, but come on, we have technology! I know how corny that sounded but you can’t tell me that doesn’t make sense. I’m just saying it’s really hard to be authentic and not have integrity. Integrity is all we really have in the “corporate world.” “I do business with this person, because I know they are who they portray themselves to be and they will do what they said they will.” Translated: I do business with this person, because they are authentic and have integrity. This is the main part of professionalism, because as Arron Burn in Hamilton: An American Musical says, you “are the one thing in life you can control.”
A lot of the conversations Anna and I have end in, “well that depends on the situation” or something to that affect. Professionalism is hard for people, because other people exist. People are so hard to figure out, companies pay millions to consulting companies to help them figure out how to manage them and make them more efficient. Quick leadership side-note/free consulting: when trying to figure out how to make your team more efficient, TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY DO THE JOB. At the end of the day they will have to work with whatever changes you make. Being able to adapt to the different things that happen in a professional setting is crucial. Now some of you may be asking, “How do I be my authentic self and adaptable?” Adaptability comes down to being able to understand yourself in a situation and how that affects the people around you and how they feel/ will feel. I can’t really say much more on this, because I think this part is pretty straightforward. I could talk about how to adapt, but that depends on the situations.
One more thing, authenticity is the glue that holds relationships together. When I was writing that last part on integrity I kept thinking, trust. Anna and I spent like 2 weeks just talking about relationship building. It’s definitely one of the cores of her leadership and a place where I’ve struggled. People like to follow/ work with people who they trust. The easiest way to get someone to trust you is to be authentic. The “just be yourself” saying applies to professionalism too.
Think back to your favorite co-workers or bosses. I bet you they possessed and displayed these two things on a daily basis.
J is alive
TL;DR: Professionalism= Authenticity and Adaptability