Professional Award Schemes – who are they for?

I attended the Australian Institute of Management (Queensland) Excellence Awards presentation recently. Although I have attended many such events I was particularly inspired by this one to put pen to paper (or more correctly mouse to screen) to reflect on what professional Award schemes are all about.

In this case it was a gala event whose purpose was to recognise particularly outstanding managerial talent from industry and commerce including the not-for-profit sector. As the presentation of the finalists and the announcement of the category winners proceeded I was impressed to note the wide range of pursuits, businesses and industry sectors these people represented. Of particular interest to me was the number of the nominees who were from relatively small to medium enterprises. Equally it was obvious that the majority were relatively young.

So I began to contemplate several fundamental aspects of this scenario for example –

Why do professional associations promote Award schemes?

The first and most obvious response to this question is that the associations need to maintain relevance with their members and Award schemes encourage participation in the association’s activities. However there are a few other suggested reasons:

·         An Award scheme strikes interest not only with members but also with the public, other associations and industry stakeholders.AIMPage

·         Awards provide a high profile for an Association by showcasing its more talented members.

·         Awards encourage involvement in and commitment to the Association by its members as well as encouraging growth in membership through promotion of the scheme.

·         Awards promote publicly the objectives of the Association and show that its efforts are achieving the results it professes to provide to its members.

In some way it is a kind of self-congratulatory exercise and the promotion of the benefits of belonging to the particular association.  I do not suggest that this is a bad thing and indeed if the benefits are real there is good reason to promote them through an Award scheme.

Why do individuals and organisations nominate their key people for Awards?

The participation of individuals and organisations in Award schemes project a number of reasons:

·         For organisations it is an opportunity to acknowledge their best and brightest. For many nominees it is a surprising and gratifying vote of confidence from colleagues or the Boss to be nominated.

·         Recognition through an Award scheme can provide increased profile for the business and therefore  an opportunity to promote its products or services.

·         For individuals it provides an opportunity to seek the recognition of peers, immediate bosses, the employing organisation or perhaps the wider industry.

·         An increased personal profile can also assist business objectives, promotion, or other career advancement prospects.

·         On a more personal note the experience of participation may provide opportunities for self-development.

Australian Institute of Management  Chair Julie Boyd writes in her introduction to the program that “taking part in the Awards requires participants to take stock of their career… to reflect with honesty and humility on where they have been, and how they got to where they are now.”

Indeed almost all of the category winners mentioned in their acceptance speeches the significant value to them of the journey through the Award process, in terms of that reflection and assessment of one’s own capabilities and potential. That in itself would seem to be an extremely positive justification for such schemes

Professional Award Schemes


(AIM Excellence Award Winners 2013: Teresa Miller, Paul Kahlert,Andrew Russell and Stephen Tait)

Image courtesy AIM

How does industry and the economy benefit from Award schemes?

Industry and the profession of management will always benefit from circumstances which make good managers more self-aware and where they are encouraged or challenged to even higher levels of performance and achievement. Many of the Awardees expressed the feeling that winning the AIM Award had inspired them to even greater efforts. Where these people are held out as examples of the best , then others will invariably follow in the footsteps.

So Award schemes like that of the Australian Institute of Management are valuable on a number of levels and their promoters and sponsors are to be congratulated on their initiative. Equally the people who are recognised by the Awards are to be valued as leaders in their respective fields. Read More about the AIM Awards here.

BRSVCLooking for and finding role models and inspiration is part of the development path of leaders whether in business or other walks of life. Perhaps that is why the Institute’s choice of Benjamin Roberts-Smith VC was such a perfect selection for the keynote speaker at this event. Ben is a  fine example of a person whose constant focus in their chosen career is on the continual pursuit of excellence which, in his context, translated into actions of valour above and beyond even the extra-ordinary…and that is why he rated from the entire audience and intense and prolonged standing ovation.

(Benjamin Roberts-Smith VC. Image courtesy

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