James Bond and the difference between professionalism and integrity

Yesterday, someone asked me what was one of the characteristics I look for in a leader, whether student leader, math coach, principal, district leader, president of the local lodge, the union, the country, or Pat Kiernan (anchor for New York 1, my local cable news network). I used the word “integral.” I think a few […]

James Bond, Quantum of Solace

James Bond, Quantum of Solace

Yesterday, someone asked me what was one of the characteristics I look for in a leader, whether student leader, math coach, principal, district leader, president of the local lodge, the union, the country, or Pat Kiernan (anchor for New York 1, my local cable news network). I used the word “integral.” I think a few people just blinked, so I drew three definitions in my mind:

1) The numerical value of the area under a curve as defined by limits, etc.
2) The quality of any number that belongs to a set of all the whole numbers and their additive inverses
3) The quality of adhering to ethics and morals, or completeness in their person

I found it. I explained my perception about the word “integral,” and someone replied, “Well, isn’t that synonymous to being professional?” Then someone else chimed in, “Well, professionalism is part of having integrity. Or is it the other way around?” Then, a clever lady quipped, “But wait: I know plenty of professionals who don’t have integrity!”

I laughed.

The first replier then said, “Yeah, but when I say ‘professional,’ I don’t mean ‘having a job.’ I mean that they have integrity and a certain set of behaviors …” And that’s where my mind drifted off into situations where professionalism and integrity either worked in concert or not. Plenty of examples sprinted through my mind: the president who gives constant updates about the progress of a crisis, the CEO who sincerely apologizes when his or her company fails at their job, the columnist who gives the whole story and maintains objectivity throughout his or her pieces.

When looking up an example of one person who doesn’t have much integrity but is admired for their professionalism, I thought: Bond. James Bond.

No one would question James Bond’s professionalism. He wears a suit and tie to most occasions. He understands protocol and procedures, and usually respects his chain of command. His expertise is impeccable and he’s constantly searching for ways to improve his content speciality. He’s got the admiration of friends and foes alike.

But does he have integrity? With the bevy of women, his penchant for cold-blooded murder, and reckless abuse of private and public property? Even if he’s killing world-class villains, would anyone call him an integral man? I wasn’t really sure, and neither are Mr. Big or Goldfinger.

It also made me think about teachers and the need for our profession to define professionalism at a time when our professionalism has been called into question for various motives. What new standards do we need to set or update when it comes to professionalism? I don’t have all those answers. I just know that by the time I even got over my 007 delusions, the workshop had moved onto the next topic.

We shouldn’t have moved on.

Jose, who’s stirred, not shaken …

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