Professionalism: How Exceptional Leaders Maintain Composure and Why It’s Important

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“Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it and doing it.” — Frank Tyger

Like the other key elements of workplace culture, professionalism starts at the very top with your company’s leadership. It is something that is set by example; and regardless of the culture you have in place, it is absolutely vital to your company’s success.

“Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it and doing it.” — Frank Tyger

What’s interesting is that, since the word “professionalism” has such broad and relative applications, it is challenging to tie it to corporate leadership through one specific avenue. An ever-reliable resource is Dale Carnegie & Associates, which defines business professionalism as “the code of behavior that is expected of you in a leadership role.” Broad, right? Within the realm of professionalism in business, though, are more specific elements such as physical and behavioral presentation, punctuality, accountability, communication and respect of company’s policies and other employees.

This is where it gets especially tricky. Professionalism, that is. Each individual, as an employee and extension of your company and its culture, derives a sense of their own professional identity through the convergence of their own communication, knowledge, skills, reasoning, emotions and values. Ideally, what you want is for every employee to match up to a certain professional standard; but that’s not necessarily realistic given growing diversity in the workforce and each individual’s context and characteristics. In a contemporary professional workplace, this issue is only amplified in complexity by technology. Which brings me to this: why it’s important for corporate leaders to have composure, and how exceptional leaders maintain it.

Why composure is important

Why should it matter for you to maintain composure through adversity? You’re the boss, right? In short, composure matters because at the end of the day, it’s not about you — it’s about your business. It’s about the success of your company. Maintaining composure as a professional in the workplace is important because, as a leader, you’re one of the key examples and influencers of the creativity, innovation, vision, respect, loyalty and work ethic necessary to drive your business. Any lapse in composure in your professionalism affects your credibility as a leader, which has a negative effect on your company’s workplace culture and ultimately hurts your business.

It also gives your employees a free pass when they demonstrate a lack of ability to control their emotions. If they see that you’re unable to account for your own emotions or recognize and manage your response to others regardless of whether they’re derived from issues in or away from the workplace, they will believe that it’s okay to do the same. Ultimately, professionalism is tied closely to self-awareness. Until you’re in-tune with yourself, your ability to connect with and lead others in the workplace will lack consistency. Without composure there’s no professionalism; and without professionalism, well, there’s no success.

How the best leaders maintain composure

Like in high school English class, there’s no right answer. However, though no two exceptional leaders are the same (in how they maintain a high level of composure), there are a handful of similar characteristics and behaviors. What I’d like to point out is that, in most cases, how exceptional leaders respond to adversity is a matter of perception. How they view and seek to resolve problems is more glass half-full than glass half-empty. In other words, exceptional leaders don’t see problems, they see opportunities. It’s how they respond that’s important, and with that, here’s how (thanks again, Dale Carnegie):

  • Don’t let your emotions become obstacles.
  • Don’t take things personally: Always keep business separate from your and other’s personal lives.
  • Be accountable: As I discussed, this means that your behavior and communication as a leader must be exemplary.
  • Communicate wisely: Listen as much or more than you speak.
  • Be decisive: Don’t show or respond with doubt.

Above all, always remain positive. Even in times of crisis, remain optimistic and constructive towards your employees. Even if you’re facing exit, it won’t help you, your employees or your business to lead with a lack of professionalism. Stay composed and good luck!

Jason Richmond

Hello there, my name is Jason Richmond. I’m Founder and Chief Growth Officer of Ideal Outcomes. My ongoing goal of continual growth started with one objective – to learn from everyone and apply those lessons to my life. My life is dedicated to understanding how I can better help others, and that’s why I’ve travelled all over the world.

To take a step back, it all started with Dale Carnegie. I took the Carnegie course after three years in Australia and embraced the methods and philosophies behind it. I embraced them so much, in fact, that I dedicated my life to them. I became a partner with Dale Carnegie because I saw the impact the program had on careers around the globe. It was a genuinely enlightening moment in my professional life. In fact, it was a legitimate moment of clarity.

This path led me to become a consultant for various organizations, acting as an HR partner as I developed partnerships for my clients. I had the opportunity to travel the world and work with amazing people everywhere.

But why Carnegie? My passion is to learn and share what I’ve discovered. It’s to take away an experience from every situation and apply it to my life and the lives of my team members. You won’t learn if you remain stationary, and I want to learn and grow. Ultimately, my position now is a way for me to provide for people and make their lives better. I do so by uniting individuality and fostering outstanding culture. I’d rather be a leader than a pusher because people respond positively to it. After all, if I’m not energized and committed, why should my team be?

I am who I am because I’ve had the opportunity to be a student of different cultures around the world. I don’t see myself as a CEO. I don’t see myself as an executive. I see myself as a resource for my team and my clients. If I can’t serve them, I’m not doing my job.

And if I can’t serve you, I can’t say I’m doing my job, either.

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