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What makes a 'professional' professional? 

by John Dashfield in Business / Presentation    (submitted 2009-04-14)

Having coached professional service providers for several years a question that comes up from time to time is "what does it really mean to be professional?"
If you look up the word 'professional' in a dictionary you're going to see a definition along the lines of 'a calling or occupation'. The word 'professional' means to be engaged in a profession. But aren't these the most basic of descriptions that don't convey the real essence of professionalism?
It doesn't matter what we do but rather how we do it that defines what it mean to be professional.
So what could more usefully be regarded as characteristics of professional people?
Driven by purpose, meaning and values
They are doing what they love and have an in-built desire to do great work. Their passion shows in what they do and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Always looking to learn and improve
They may excel at what they do but this doesn't mean resting on their laurels. They are curious and open to new and better ways to do what they do. They know that standing still means they are going backwards.
Focus on what they are good at
They know what their natural strengths, talents and abilities are and focus on these. They build their team and systems around making sure they spend most of their time engaged in these core activities.
Excellent communicators
They are able get along easily with people because they know who they are. They can listen well, value other people's point of view but are also highly influential and persuasive when the time calls for it.
Don't always have to be right, and can comfortably say "I don't know"
Because they are comfortable with themselves and know there's nothing to prove they can openly admit the extent of their knowledge and skills. They can admit a mistake, which adds to, not detracts from their credibility.
Do what they say
They are consistent and when they make a promises and commitments they do their utmost to keep them. They are loyal and understand the value of relationships.
Never come across as needy
They want to grow and win business but they never need any by particular piece of work. They don't over-sell and are confident that by doing the right things they will attract enough business.
Understand the importance of balance
They lead authentic lives and know that to perform at their best they need to rest, rejuvenate and spend quality time away from work.
These are just some of the aspects of what it means to be professional. I'm sure you can think of more.
The fascinating thing is that you can take these points and build your business around them and as you do so, success becomes a natural by-product of demonstrating high levels of integrity and value lead behaviour.

About the Author

John Dashfield is a leading business and personal success coach. He uses many powerful and unique tools that help business people grow profits, save time and lead more inspiring lives. Often challenging popular thinking, John's vision is to help businesses and the people in them live in harmony within the community and the environment as well as achieving financial success. To receive more thought provoking free articles from John Dashfield visit