Professionalism refers to the qualities, aims, and conduct that characterizes a certain profession. Precisely, professionalism enables the military to be effective in its undertakings. Beer (2018) notes that professionalism entails excellent literacy and practical skills connected to the military, high ethical standards, reasonable work motivation, and morale as well good relationship with colleagues. In recent years, the focus on military professionalism has increased after various transgressions took place. For instance, recent occurrences, such as the Abu Ghraib abuses in Iraq, the desecration of enemy corpses in Afghanistan, cases of cheating in proficiency tests, increased corruption in the military, and sexual misdemeanor have dominated debates about the need for professionalism in the military. Notably, the main attributes of a soldier who behaves professionally include integrity, honesty, competency, accountability and self -regulation. Soldiers have to demonstrate the five values of the US military that include trust, expertise, honorable service, esprit de corps, and stewardship. Professionalism is important in many jobs including the military because high levels of respect, commitment and discipline are required.
Importance of Professionalism in the Military and how One’s Actions Affects Others
A soldier performs numerous professional responsibilities. Hence, professionalism enables them to act ethically even when under pressure to perform many roles. Soldiers maintaining high levels of professionalism will treat colleagues and civilians with respect no matter the situation or challenges associated with their role. As such, they demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence through putting into consideration the needs and emotions of others. Professional soldiers always sense and understand the emotional needs of civilians, they, therefore, observe the situation and listen keenly. Further, professional soldiers do not allow a bad day to affect how they interact and relate to civilians and colleagues. Treating other people with respect earns the military professions a good reputation. The military code of ethics details the values and conducts that are expected of military personnel. Further, being part of the military requires strict discipline and obedience. The members have to identify with their professional and moral responsibilities through mastering the technical expertise of warfare, enhanced relationship between themselves and the public, and awareness of their role in furtherance of goals and objectives. Adherence to professional standards leads to proper functioning of the military leading to victory in various missions.
Military professionalism enables a soldier to build trust with colleagues and leaders. Trust is fundamental to any relationship and allows people to take charge of situations (Robinson, 2017). Moreover, a renewed focus on military professionalism helps to reinforce traditional morals and values of the larger society (Nix, 2012). Professional soldiers exhibit traits such as integrity and honesty. They are trusted by their colleagues and other people because they deliver what they promised or act as expected. Professionalism enables members of the military to stick to their values even when situations are difficult like when in a war.
Equally, Professionalism motivates soldiers to complete various of tasks despite the challenges. The reason behind the argument is that, professionals do not give excuses but concentrate on finding solutions. Professionals are reliable, and they deliver their promises. Members of the military should be committed to the unit, the service, their country and ultimately on the mission and to each other. In many instances, military work is undertaken in hazardous conditions and for long hours. Therefore, commitment enables members to tolerate hardships and move on despite the situation. Additionally, professionalism enables soldiers to be humble. Thus, they respect and relate well with colleagues, request for help when necessary and have the willingness to learn from other soldiers.
According to McQuail (2003), accountability is defined as the condition of being responsible. Accountability has various merits as it helps a person perform better, keeps a person rounded in reality and lastly helps in learning from the failures and success of others. A professional person does not cross boundaries, is reliable, adheres to the correct code of ethics, and are accountable. Soldiers or military personnel interact with different people on a regular basis. Thereby, professionalism helps the soldiers own up to their mistakes, take responsibility and fix them instead of blaming their colleagues.
Professionalism is important as it enables members of the military to act ethically as they will be accountable for their actions, words, and thoughts. Personal accountability is closely linked to integrity and honesty, and it’s an important element of professionalism. Therefore, professionalism aids in managing the emotions that are developed through autonomy. It instills a sense of independence and discretionary judgment, consequently preparing the soldiers morally and psychologically to tackle the demands of their profession. Soldiers should be honest and always stand for the truth (Evetts, 2013). In this way, they create relationships that are devoid of confusion, misinterpretation, and inaccurate conclusions. In the military, deception motivates ill will and erodes the concept of openness. Professionalism enables soldiers to identify clear lines of actions, authority, and responsibility, and eliminate confusion in the processes of decision making. Despite the clear lines of activities, in cases where immediate superiors violate the tenets of professionalism and are deemed to take part in unbecoming behavior, their juniors are expected to take action and report them to the relevant authorities (Horowitz & Stam, 2014).
Carnes (2015) indicates that military professionalism promotes a good relationship between the military and civilians, this is known as objective control. Good relations are developed because the soldiers treat the civilians with respect and are sensitive to their needs. Professionals soldiers are determined to help the civilians without engaging in unethical acts of rape, abuse, violence, and intimidation of the civilians. Respecting the civilians makes them cooperate with the military through providing important information about criminals, hence, simplifying the work of soldiers. Professionalism enables soldiers to manage conflict of interest (COI) effectively. COI arises between a soldier’s role and personal interests, and it may be caused by personal relationships and special interests. Military standards of ethics require soldiers to disclose any personal interests that may affect how they perform their roles now and in future.
Conflicts are bound to arise at all time especially when individuals interact on a daily basis. Soldiers come from different walks of life, regions and religious affiliations. The differences can lead to the conflicts caused by the clash of ideologies. The application of professional attitude or behaviors thus helps in minimizing the occurrence of conflict in the workplace or barracks. Soldiers have different opinions on the day to day matters. Being professional thus, helps in the understanding and respecting other people’s opinions and act as a guiding principle in helping avoid conflicts. Additionally, professionalism helps argue out ideas in a civilized manner thus minimizing the occurrence of heated arguments that eventually lead to initiating the appropriate conflict resolution measures to resolve the disagreement.
Also, professionalism help soldiers to be objective when making important decisions (Horowitz & Stam, 2014). In most cases, decision making is done in situations of uncertainty. Different challenges are encountered, and the soldiers are expected to overcome them. Therefore, they need to balance values, such as compassion, courtesy, and kindness. As such, treatment of their adversaries and human life becomes an integral part of how they define themselves and their values. To soldiers in the US military, professionalism acts as a benchmark for success and failure. In respect of the institution, they have to abide by the highest standards. In the past, soldiers used the motivation of war to show and demonstrates acts of professionalism, such as courage, talent, drive, and loyalty. However, these are essential aspects that should be maintained even in a peaceful environment.
Professional standards of the military advocate for cooperation and unity while on a mission to achieve victory. Professionalism in the military is important as it requires soldiers to have the skills that will enable them to complete the assigned roles. Experience and skills are the foundations of professional competence. For example, Lack of skills or knowledge may lead to the death of a bleeding colleague. For military goals to be realized, professionalism is a critical element as it sets the jurisdiction of the profession as “the management of violence” (Allen, 2011). Specifically, professionalism sets the stage for the development of strategy and tact, where soldiers can take full responsibility and ownership of their actions. In recent years, there has been an ascendency towards minimizing civilian interference in military operations. However, this can only be realized when there is a clear distinction of roles. Therefore, soldiers should be pre-occupied with finding what is best for their cause, to drive their mission and vision. Further, professionalism as a virtue motivates individual soldiers to be part of the solution by setting leadership and ethical examples to be emulated.
Snider & Toner (2009) maintains that professionalism in the military leads to better control and direction of the soldiers more so when operating in chaotic conditions. Without right and good application of expertise, the military may lose its lifeblood; trust of the Americans. Professionalism is important in the military because of the nature of their roles. Those involved in wars are expected to maintain extreme levels of commitment, discipline, and skills. Concerning discipline, David (2017) argues that members of the military should maintain weapons, follow orders and use a reasonable amount of force when the need arises. Without discipline, soldiers can cause damage to property and life while undermining victory. Also, professionalism helps the soldiers to accept the direct and continuous involvement by political authorities as a regular part of their job. Notably, since the World War, there has been mounting tension, and friction between the two bodies and many have expressed concerns against the “militarization” of the country’s foreign policy and the increasing importance in the role of combatant commanders. However, professionalism has been integral in setting standards concerning what these groups can do and achieve in the sphere of foreign policy and their relationships with civilians.
Professionalism helps to create a link between the bureaucratic-military institutions and the needs and requirements of individual soldiers. Similar to traditional corporations, the military structure is designed to maximize its efficiency through observation of routinized processes and behavior (Evetts, 2013). Further, soldiers are dissuaded against taking the moral stand in favor of the bureaucracies and focus on the larger society that they serve. As such, professionalism helps to define the functional component of individual soldiers, including essential aspects of their competence, skills, and their motivation to use their knowledge and experience to cooperate with other soldiers. Professionalism is attached to the long-standing view that training and development alone does not produce the best of professionals. As such, there is a need for individual competence in essential areas, such as finance and politics. Professionalism, therefore, will act as an impetus for an individual to relish in their role and for the soldier to demonstrate their proficiency in other standards, such as caring leadership, firm ethical and moral behavior, good personal values, and confidence (Horowitz & Stam, 2014). All these characteristics are related and link up to transform a regular soldier into a strong-willed champion for group goals and societal visions.
Personal boundaries are defined as rules, guidelines or limits that people create to help in the identification of safe, reasonable or permissible ways for other people to behave towards them. There are different types of boundaries such as social status boundaries, indulgence boundaries, traffic boundaries, legal boundaries among others. Boundaries are beneficial in every sector; workplace or institution. Boundaries help in establishing and distinguishing the appropriate and non-appropriate behavior in the military. Being vibrant and energetic is encouraged in every work environment. However, limits (Boundaries) must be checked to ensure that misunderstandings and conflicts are kept at bay. Soldiers who behave in a professional manner steer off crossing the lines regarding their interaction and conversation with others thus helping foster peace at all times within a Unit.
In summary, the above discussion makes it clear that Professionalism is important in the military because high levels of respect, commitment and discipline are required. Professionalism enables members of the military to act ethically even when under pressure to perform many roles leading to better relations with colleagues and the society. Adherence to professional standards causes proper functioning of the military leading to victory in various missions. Military professionalism enables a soldier to build trust with colleagues and leaders. Professional standards of the military advocates for commitment. Therefore, commitment enables members of the military to tolerate hardships and move on despite the situation. Military professionalism promotes a good relationship between the military and civilians. Good relations are developed because the soldiers treat the civilians with respect and are sensitive to their needs. Professionalism help soldiers to be objective when making important decisions. Similarly, professionalism leads to smooth operations of the military because conflicts are minimized. When a soldier treats colleagues and civilians with respect, the reputation of the military improves.
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