Leadership and Professionalism: Key Qualities

What makes someone a leader or a professional? Is it their ability to aspire and motivate subordinates? Is it a specific set of skills or knowledge? Perhaps, or perhaps it is far more. I think ultimately the definitions are subjective and open for interpretation, to a degree.

The following definitions were retrieved from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary leadership, as a noun means 1: the office or position of a leader 2: capacity to lead 3: the act or an instance of leading 4: leaders Leading, an adjective 1: coming or ranking first : foremost 2: exercising leadership 3: providing direction or guidance 4: given most prominent display Professionalism, A noun: the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well 1: the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person(see 1professional) 2: the following of a profession (as athletics) for gain or livelihood.

Qualities/Characteristics According to Forbes Magazine the top 10 qualities, of a leader, are: Honesty Ability to delegate Communication Sense of humor Confidence Commitment Positive attitude Creativity Intuition Ability to inspire The Holden Leadership Center includes the following as must have characteristics of good leaders Ability to be proactive rather than reactive Flexibility/adaptability Respectfulness Open-mindedness Resourcefulness Ability to recognize achievement Being well informed/educated Being interested and engaged in feedback and making change Being well organized Consistency Discussion

I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds in the assistive technology industry. They have not only taught me a lot about technology, access technology/accessibility, and other specific hard skills; they have also taught me some valuable soft skills, like how to be an effective teacher and to relate to consumers in a meaningful yet professional way. Through it all they have demonstrated leadership and professionalism that I aspire to. Those who have modeled leadership and professionalism throughout my life, education and career have lead by providing direction/guidance and demonstrating professionalism. Each of my mentors have been honest, creative, committed, and had a sense of humor, though some may have been a little dry. In short, they have been teachers.

Professionalism has been demonstrated to me in a variety of ways. First, these people were honest and treated others with respect and dignity. Second, these professionals utilized constructive criticism and provided direction/guidance to others who might be struggling or disagree with them on a topic. The third way that professionalism has been demonstrated by my mentors is through open, direct, conversation and information sharing.

An action that one perceives as honest or respectful may be perceived differently by others. Honesty and respect are key components in defining both leadership and professionalism. If the perception of honesty or respect is perceived as dishonest or disrespectful conflict may arise, and the professionalism or capacity for leadership may be questioned. It is such perceptions that leave the definitions of professionalism and leadership open for interpretation.

So, how do you define leadership, or professionalism?

About Laine Amoureux

Laine is an assistive technology specialist in Idaho, with an emphasis in environmental accommodation and training professionals working with children and adults who experience vision loss or blindness. As a part of the culminating project in her masters program in assistive technology and human services Laine worked with class mates to create the Google Web App instructional materials at www.googleax.com and is working on developing new content for the site.
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