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True Professionalism

By David H. Maister

*A Book Review*

by Michael C. Gray

© 2018 by Michael C. Gray

In True Professionalism, David Maister examines professionalism in depth. The education in universities for the professions is focused on technical knowledge. Accountants are taught about accounting, lawyers about the law, doctors about medicine, etc. Rarely is there much discussion about what it means to be a professional, so beginning professionals often don't really understand their role.

David Maister is a consultant to professional firms worldwide and was formerly a professor at Harvard Business School. Has seen firsthand how professional firms operate and how professionals function within their firms.

According to Maister, although most firms have similar mission and vision statements, which stress client service, teamwork, and the goal of being the best place to work, they usually don't truly operate in harmony with those aspirations.

Professionalism is predominantly an attitude, not a set of competencies. A real professional is a technician who cares. The opposite of the word professional is not "unprofessional," but rather "technician."

Real professionalism has little to do with which business you are in, your role in the business or your credentials. It relates to having pride in your work, being committed to quality, being dedicated to the interests of the client/patient and having a sincere desire to help.

Too many team members don't find their work rewarding, but repetitive. They don't believe they are continuing to learn and grow, so they become frustrated and leave their employers.

The main value focused on and rewarded in most firms is not personal growth and contributing to the future of the firm through research, marketing and developing client relationships, but billable hours. Anything nonchargeable is considered a distraction.

One reason for this is the partners/management of the firm are overly concerned with their own chargeability and hoard work they should be delegating. They don't devote the nonchargeable time that they should to coaching their team members and developing effective systems for the long-term success of their firms. They are often poor leaders and fail to inspire and develop their team members.

A key component of improving the situation is changing how team members are evaluated and rewarded.

New professionals would find studying True Professionalism worthwhile, but firm leaders should also keep it on hand and refer to it regularly to remember their role in building a healthy professional practice.

Buy it on Amazon: Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention.

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