June 9, 2011

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects – The Professional

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 11:22 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Professional: Defining the New Standard of Excellence at Work by Subroto Bagchi, Portfolio, 256 Pages, $25.95 Hardcover, June 2011, ISBN 9781591844020

What is a professional? Subroto Bagchi, one of India’s foremost business leaders and authors, believes the traditional definition has changed. He writes in The Professional that “it’s not enough for someone to just be able to do a job in order to qualify for this title; he or she not only must be able to accept responsibility for their own work and actions but also must understand how that work and those actions will translate to the rest of the world.” The author then goes on to supply examples from around the world to support his argument that ethical decisions matter, especially in this age when business is so very globally integrated.

When this book first crossed my desk, I thought the title applied to lawyers and accountants. Instead, this is a book for anyone who believes in doing the right thing, acting responsibly and believing that there is a better way. It reminded me a bit of Robert Townsend’s classic Up the Organization in its structure, pithy language, and the contemplation of qualities that make a good leader… and a good person.

For example, Bagchi starts the section of the book titled “Self-Awareness” by telling the stories of two men born in the same decade, into similar circumstances, and with remarkable talent: O.J. Simpson and Arthur Ashe.

Both worked hard, extremely hard, to reach the highest level of the professions. Both achieved prestige, acclaim, and fame.

But behind the glamour, there was pain. In time, both men had their own brushes with the law. One for crimes ranging from shoplifting to murder. The other for protesting apartheid and oppression against immigrants from Haiti.

He believes that what separates the two men is self-awareness, and warns:
Do not let yourself get carried away; do not start believing the myth about yourself and your achievements. The self-aware understand what their strengths are; they know exactly how much of their success is because of their inherent strengths and how much is situational.

The Professional is a manifesto arguing for a deeper consideration of ethics and integrity in every action. Each of its sixty chapters is short and easily digested, with advice ranging from how one dresses and how one asks questions, to how one occupies spare time and how to elevate our work from simply professional to Professional.