The Professionality Myth


Traditional management strategies approach the problem of leading human beings from the viewpoint that people are supposed to be “professional” as soon as they arrive at the workplace.

This assumes that human beings have emotions that can be switched off at will: as soon as a person reaches the workplace he/she is able to completely forget about their private lives, about their out-of-work emotions, about the discord they just had with the taxi driver, about the great evening they just spent with their spouse and become “professional”.

Defining “Professional” Behavior

According to Wikipedia a “professional” is:
A professional does an activity to receive payment for an act (as a profession), which usually requires expertise and carries with it socially significant mores and folkways. That is to say, behaving professionally would indicate that the person's actions remain in accordance with specific rules, written or unwritten, pertaining to behavior, dress, speech, etc. By extension, the adjective professional identifies somebody recognized for expertise or skill in a craft or activity.

Can Professional People Still Have Emotions?

Having read the above definition how do you feel? Are you excited, does your heart skip a beat? Maybe not. And that would be quite natural, the emotional essence of professional behavior is to be neutral, efficient and deliver results.

However: this completely contradicts the way human beings are built. We are sentient, emotional beings who cannot switch off our emotions, we carry them with us wherever we go. Suppressing these emotions and acting “professional” will create a short term effect of seeming neutral and in charge, yet the emotions are still there, under the surface, hi-jacking much of our conscious and unconscious mind.

The Holistic Approach To Transformational Leadership Creating Evangelist Teams That Go The Extra Mile

Transformational Leaders are aware that their team members are holistic emotional beings: emotions are always there… what affects you at home you bring to the workplace, what affects you at the workplace you bring home.

Emotions that are not talked about tend to stack up

Most of the emotions we learn to avoid speaking about are negative. It is seen as impolite and unprofessional to talk about that problem with the children at school or that conversation with the spouse that did not go so well.

Thus a person reaches the workplace his/her emotions still fully involved in what just happened and is now expected to negotiate that big deal. The emotions have to be blocked out, but they are still there, taking up considerable mind-capacity in order to manage them.

Holistic Leaders know about this and foster an open communications culture, a culture that allows people to come in and unload some of their out-of-work emotions in a safe way with emotionally mature people who are good listeners. Once they have unburdened themselves to an attentive listener people register a marked improvement of their emotional state, they feel light, energetic and willing to go for the goal full out!

Listening Is Your Best Investment!

Many human beings go through life hardly being noticed by others. They feel like nobody cares, that they are just here to do a job, to be “professional” in order to get the work done and be paid.

We live in a fast paced world with little time and less patience for the individual. This has led to the misconception that there is no real time to listen to a person’s emotions, especially if these may be linked to some negative event!

Yet, listening is an act of healing! The more people know that their manager sees them as a holistic human being with emotions and who truly cares enough to take the time and listen, the more the team will trust the manager and start going that extra mile from the heart…

Article written by: Roger Konopasek
Author, International Speaker, Trainer and Transformational Leadership Catalyst."

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