Somehow, many of us have ended to believe that innovation is the exclusive domain of the rebels, of the creative, of those who disregard rules and hierarchies. An unverbalized consequence of this erroneous notion is that the antidotes of the rebels, the big companies that happen to have a lot of those, cannot be innovative per definition. In accordance to the facts however, most innovative companies are big and older than 10 years. Research shows also that constraints, like policies and procedures, actually drive creativity.
There's tons of career advice out there. Students, entrepreneurs, leaders - we all strive for success and acceptance. But when you get to work with a lot of people in a huge variety of industries, functions and business relationship, you quickly realize that the few who stand out have one thing in common – professionalism.
I am not trying to be smart, it's the basics, you're right. Unfortunately, professionalism doesn't follow authomatically with "following a profession", and "being professional" seems to not come naturally to most of us. The reason is that professionalism is nothing that you have, but everything that you do.
Here's the 4 P's that "professional" means to me.