Identity – A Powerful, Often Overlooked Driver of Human Behavior

“What would a professional do in this situation?”

Undesired Behavior Is a Serious Threat to Organizations

Undesired behavior arises on the individual level, but in reality generates deep, lasting impact on organizations.


Missed opportunities for
productivity and engagement create habits of mediocrity and indifference.


Many businesses are bleeding
capital because they refuse to rock the boat, resulting in toxic work environments, needless spending, and even preventable deaths.


Many organizations are
constantly impeded by self-centered executives fighting pointless battles with their colleagues in the name of their own ego.


Enron, Wall Street, Capitol Hill,
there’s no end to the stories of individuals skirting around the truth for their own gain. For one company this resulted in lawsuits that amounted to over 10% of the organization’s annual operating budget.

See the impact Professionalism has on these behaviors.

The Root of Undesired Behavior

Your employees aren’t children. Pattern-based undesired behavior rarely arises from a lack of knowledge, but rather as an adaptation to high pressure situations. The drive to fit in, be accepted, or to make a statement; an internal competition, or simply a lack of discipline often spur individuals to set aside their common sense in favor of self-serving actions. These decisions are sparked by many of our basic desires—acceptance and even survival—but may be corrected by a shift in identity.

Leaders Drive Professionalism

That shift to a professional identity takes employees away from a self-sustaining, “me first,” mind-set into a mind-set focused on the greater good of the organization, a we-centric approach, seeded in professional values. But, organizational professionalism must be driven by leadership. Leaders decide how far they take an organization’s emphasis on professional values, whether through strategic initiatives that can revitalize an organization’s culture or brand, or through localized renovations to solve more focused problems like recruiting, retention, or process improvements. This role can be broken down into three core responsibilities that determine the degree of professionalism present in your organization:


Center the Company Around Professional Values

  • Do employees aspire to see themselves as professionals within your cultural brand?
  •  Are all organizational values supported by underlying professionalism?

Challenge Your People to Be Better Professionals

  • Do employees understand organizational expectations of professionalism?
  • How can leaders better serve as exemplars of professionalism within the organization?

Reinforce Your People’s Identities as Professionals

  • Is a culture of professionalism consistently voiced within the organization?
  • How can the habit of applying the seven mind-sets become second nature?

Become a Better Professional.

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