What is professionalism?

Have you come across this debate on who is a professional? Many might have been through this question for sure, especially if you are in the so called corporate domain. But this question is not limited to white collar labor, though our discussion would be primarily about them.

With that above statement we cannot help but go back to the same corporate domain, because that is the place where the term professionalism is abused often with its distorted meaning. The fixation on dress code is especially pre-dominant in defining professionalism and the corporate psyche has been a victim of that notion.

It is more or less declared that wearing an ironed shirt and Pant is the end of professionalism. Do you agree? If you do then I have a serious doubt on your reasoning ability. Who decided that if someone wears an Ironed shirt & pant becomes a complete professional?

Here is how I would like to spin it out. Long ago, i.e., centuries ago when Englishmen were out for territory acquiring expeditions in east and west, they not only invaded all those lands physically but also culturally. Now what I mean culturally is that it is the culture of English men to wear shirt, pant, and coat then all that suffocating stuff, but it was not our culture definitely. Ours was dhoti and/or pajama.

So from the time we became slaves and were employed in the offices of Englishmen we must have started wearing these. Or were naturally inclined to that costume because it was something new.

Figment of imagination: Let’s assume that long ago if Indian kings went on land acquiring/annexing expedition and did subjugate the west through brute force, by now the corporate definition of professionalism with respect to dress code would have been wearing dhoti and pajamas. Can you imagine that?

India’s defense minister and Finance Minister wear their cultural dress that is dhoti with western style shirt on top even on their foreign tours. Are they not professionals?

Now if a politician wears an Ironed shirt and pant but engages in a scam, can we still call him a professional?
Let’s move on to the real meaning of professionalism instead being stooped at this pant & shirt debate. Some of the components mentioned below in my opinion shall make someone a professional if not a complete professional, most of it based on common sense.

  • If you have to reprimand someone do it in private but appreciate in public.
  • Speak truth and stop lying.
  • Stop your ill will against your colleague.
  • Don’t be a cunning idiot, it only suits a fox.
  • Don’t pretend but do some actual work.
  • Don’t score points on your colleague’s mistakes but help.
  • Don’t claim credit for other’s work.
  • If you have become a manager it means you are still a human being, so behave humanely.
  • When you are talking to people who are inferior to you, i.e., with respect to official position, show respect.
  • Shun your ego.
  • Stop thinking that you are the last brilliant left in this world.
  • Just do not talk but also listen.
  • Stop using the word attitude.
  • Maintain the harmony of thought, word and deed.

This list is definitely not exhaustive but a way to evolve in to something better. In corporate arena people just adhere to that Ironed pant-shirt thing and claim that they are professionals which is not only rubbish but an attempt to fool oneself. The whole argument is while there is nobody saying that people should wear dhoti and pajamas to work place thought it is correct to wear it on a daily basis. But over emphasis on JUST the DRESS CODE defeats the whole purpose of turning someone in to a complete professional.

Note: This was originally written in my archived blog. I am just reposting here after correcting some typos.

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