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Professionalism- Practical Leadership Tips

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins proposes the concept of the Level 5 Leader. Level 5 leaders exhibit a selfless concern for the long-term success of the organization.

Tony Kern proposes a similar model for professionalism, beginning with a six layer list of professional competencies:

1. Vocational Excellence
2. Professional Ethics
3. Continuous Improvement
4. Professional Engagement
5. Professional Image
6. Selflessness

Level 1 professionals act solely as members of a profession, perhaps only marginally complying with policies, procedures, and regulatory practice guidelines.

Level 2 professionals are both professionally competent and ethically sound. These folks follow the rules, but fail to reach full potential because they lack a continuous improvement mindset (stagnant professionals).

Level 3 professionals embrace growth and advancement, striving to achieve all six levels of professional competence. Kern characterizes these professionals as “10 feet tall in a six-foot world” (Kern, 2011, p. 14).

Where are you on the professionalism scale? Are you continuously striving to improve your organization, yourself, and your team members?


Key Words: Professionalism, ethics, continuous improvement

Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap. and others don't. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kern, T. (2011, October/November). Going pro: Some assembly required. Vertical, 10, 14.

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