10/05/2005 - 22:00

Integrity the target for professionals

10/05/2005 - 22:00

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I attended an Institute of Management Consultants function this week, where the organisation welcomed several fellowships and introduced a new certificate program to try to provide some form of solid footing to the profession here.

I attended an Institute of Management Consultants function this week, where the organisation welcomed several fellowships and introduced a new certificate program to try to provide some form of solid footing to the profession here.

I welcome this sort of self-regulation and it got me thinking about the importance of professionalism. The first thing that came to mind was integrity.

Everything about being a professional seems to be summed up in the concept of integrity – which is, in my mind, all about adhering to a core set of values. I thought I’d jot a few ideas down:

  • Professionals are experienced and knowledgeable.
  • Professionals do their best for their clients.
  • Professionals show concern for their reputations.
  • Professionals keep themselves up-to-date.
  • Professionals earn respect for the way they go about their business and conduct their lives.
  • Professionals don’t overcharge.
  • Professionals don’t take on too much.

And, the most important thing, professionals don’t consistently turn up late for meetings and, on the rare occasions that they do, they call in to let you know.

Of course, that is my version, and the word ‘professional’ is an adjective used often: We have professional footballers, professional soldiers and, dare I say it, professional hitmen.

But I am not sure this is a true reflection of professionalism. As we know, there are plenty of professional sportspersons who lack integrity. History tells us the same can be said about professional soldiers.  I can’t speak about the integrity of professional hitmen, they move in different circles to me … though they might know a few sportsmen.

Professionalism in this context suggests a matter-of-fact dispatch of a task, a workman-like performance if you prefer. Machine-like might be another term.

I think it is a shame that the concept of professionalism should be used in this way.

Of course, like sportspeople and hitmen, it’s hard to equate professionalism across the various professions because each has its own nuances, specialisations and expertise, which is why it all comes down to integrity.

I think that professionalism is the ultimate integrity test – professionals shouldn’t be machines. No matter what type of business they advise or how they crunch the numbers, they should be thinking of the consequences of their decisions because someone has to live by the decisions they make – unless, of course, they are a hitman.

Sometimes family doesn’t come first

This week’s feature on the passing of the baton among Western Australia’s dynasties opens a fascinating window on this world. Coinciding with our search for nominations for the Family Business Awards, this feature very much focuses on the top end of town, those families that are almost household names in this state.

But even among these big businesses, with all the expertise and advice that can be accessed by success, there are the stories of generational change gone bad.

Sometimes it is simply the case that one generation doesn’t trust the next. In other cases, the next generation simply isn’t interested in the baggage that comes with tackling the leadership of an organisation.

Then, of course, there are times when all the planning in the world is worthless due to unforeseen family changes.

It all makes interesting reading and case studies for students of this type of business.

Legal correction

Finally, it is worth clearing up a couple of faux pas in our extensive Legal Elite liftout last week. It was incorrectly stated that Michael Lundberg juniored Robert Cock QC in relation to industrial award hearings in 2001 on behalf of BHP Billiton.  Mr Lundberg acted with Robert Lilburne on the matter.

We also incorrectly stated that Christopher Zelestis QC worked on the recent Kumba Resources Hope Downs matter.  Ken Martin QC was counsel in the recent Hope Downs arbitration and appeal, and Mr Zelestis worked on a previous unrelated Hope Downs matter in 2003.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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