What is professionalism? Image

What is professionalism?


Today’s Regulator newsletter included a message from Council Chair, Kevin Clark, about what it means to be a professional. Council as a whole is committed to raising the professionalism within the industry and to generating discussion about this important topic.Suits

In case you missed it, here is an excerpt from the Council Chair’s message in the April Regulator newsletter:

In recent years it has become popular among some workers to be identified as Professionals; that the term somehow distinguishes oneself, providing a certain dignity worthy of respect and even higher reward.

As a result there has developed a growing discussion over the difference between being ‘a Professional’ and that of ‘acting professionally’. The former historically being those occupations, (Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers), who held some form of higher education than the general public and therefore having something to ‘profess’ for which they would be held responsible. – A learning that carried with it the capacity to help/harm those they served and subsequently a ‘duty of care’ in the information they ‘professed’ to those around them – a fiduciary.

In recent decades, with the exponential advancement of learning, knowledge and training in so many fields of work, it is no wonder that many additional occupations would now be considered Professions.

As a result society holds their work to a higher standard. They are expected to maintain a Duty of Care in the conduct of their business and are considered by simple definition to be Fiduciaries to those whom they serve. The Real Estate Industry would certainly be one such field.

To work within the real estate industry one must be granted a licence by completing a wide-ranging program of education and successfully passing required Provincial examinations. One must also be of good character and adhere to comprehensive standards of Regulation through Law, Rules and Business Standards. If found to breach these standards, those licensed will be held accountable by a government appointed Regulator. In addition, local, Provincial and National Associations establish Codes of Ethics that their Members commit to follow in their Agreement of Membership; thus promising additional industry expectations.

All of this would suggest the right to be called a Professional. However, though Professional by designation, not always ‘acting professionally’!

To ‘act professionally’ may be much more to describe someone else’s behavior and whether it meets our own expectation of how they should be behaving within a given circumstance.

  • My plumber is so professional because he gets to me on time and does the job on budget.
  • At Tony’s restaurant in St. Louis the staff is the most professional in Missouri.
  • Go to ABC Service, they will greet you and treat you very professionally.


  • That taxi driver was so unprofessional because they ignored my request to stop smoking
  • They act so unprofessionally at ABC Diner because they never get the order right
  • If only they would act more professionally and treat me the way I think I should be treated

Thus to ‘act professionally’ is more a personal lifestyle choice that one seeks, rather than a list of standards one can attain for better business. It is neither something to claim of oneself nor something one will ever fully accomplish, and yet it is something one can pursue every day and in every area of one’s life.

Certainly those of society considered to be Professionals can encourage professional behavior through instruction. Perhaps more importantly however they will lead by example, since they recognize that they too are still learning to be more professional in their own lives. Surely this is the essence of ‘Self-Regulation’. In the words of Ghandi: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’

Please share examples of your own experience of (lower case ‘p’) professionalism or comment on the Regulator article here.