When professionals become usurped by self-interest (greed or ego)
A profession is an occupation, vocation or career with specialized knowledge of a subject, field or science. Professional occupations
• usually require prolonged academic training and a formal qualification
• are often regulated by professional bodies that may set examinations of competence and enforce adherence to an ethical code of conduct.
Professions include doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, engineers, pharmacists, professors, priests, architects and teachers.
Professions tend to be autonomous
They have a high degree of control of their own affairs, the freedom to exercise professional judgment. Autonomy can embrace judgment, but also self-interest.
A blog developed to support the Trial Advocacy Program at the University of Washington School of Law inspired this post. The Dec. 7 entry ‘NY Judge Rebukes Lawyers, Mourns Drop in Civility’ relates the judge wrote "naked competition and singular economic focus of the marketplace have begun to infiltrate the practice of law …the practice of law is now frequently described as a business rather than a profession." http://trialadnotes.blogspot.com/2007/12/ny-judge-rebukes-lawyers-mourns-drop-in.html
In contrast, some law firms are trying to not hire and rid themselves of lawyers who are no asset to their profession. “…firms are increasingly identifying and addressing concerns involving those attorneys and staff members who, for example, are abusive to co-workers, engage in harmful office politics or act in open and uncompromising self-interest to the detriment of the firm or its employees. What's more, they're doing so regardless of how many hours the offenders bill or how much business they generate.”
A column I linked to last week cited rude and uncollegial behavior in academe. The author doesn’t explain why he thinks professors act in uncivil ways but he does mention self-interest at the closing.
Professionals lose respect
when their primary motives become the quest for money, fame or control rather than helping society. It is sad to see entire professions lose respect. The ones who can halt that disintegration of respect are those within the profession. They need to do that because self-interest actions end up demoralizing staff and ultimately the income of a firm or organization. It’s really all about civility.