‘Leadership is less about what we know and more about what we’re willing to discover.’ Diane Branson
I recently attended a retirement ‘do’ in my office for Dave who was the receptionist/administrator.
Dave has a very happy disposition and would greet everyone respectfully and with a smile. He would often go out of his way to solve issues and would help you out if you had a query. Nothing was ever a problem for Dave.
When I arrived at the do, Dave was busy sticking labels onto small dishes, labelling them ‘butter’ and ‘margarine,’ even stating the brand of butter! He said to me, ‘Laura, I am just putting these labels on the dishes so that everyone has a choice as some people like butter and some like margarine.’ Wow, I thought to myself, even on his last day Dave is still thinking of others and making sure that there is attention to detail on his buffet table!
Dave has a real ‘calling’ in his day-to-day work. The ‘calling’ was identified by researched carried out by Amy Wrzesniewski, from the Yale School of Management. I first read of Amy’s fascinating work in 2007, via the Professional Manager Journal. (If you would like a copy of the article, please email me, the article was linked to positive psychology in the work place.)
In brief, Amy states that within any profession there are three categories when it comes to career orientation.
Job: These individuals not really enjoying their work who just work to receive their pay
Career: These individuals like certain aspects of their job and view their current position as a stepping stone into another career.
Calling: These individuals are committed and dedicated to their work and believe that their work makes a difference to the world.
Interestingly, regardless of your profession you can fall into any category and the article cites a hospital janitor who took it upon himself to move all the paintings from one side of a chronic care ward to the other for the benefit of the patients. Therefore, this janitor had a calling orientation. Regardless of their qualification, experience and/or status I have seen a mixture of practitioners who are Job, Career and Calling orientated.
I recently attended a seminar which was organised by the Day Care Trust on ‘Improving Quality in Early Years Education and Care: A comparison of perspectives and measures.’ I was catching up with a colleague and drinking my tea (half of which was in the saucer) when a member of the catering team, without prompting, exchanged the saucer for a clean one. I thought to myself, this person has the ‘calling’. This again demonstrates how the calling individual has that real sense of caring for others and attention to detail.
Those of you who have attended my Leadership training, will know that I always speak passionately about Amy’s work! Managers will often smile to themselves when I describe the three categories and I say. ‘Are you smiling, because you can think of staff who do fall into these categories?’ ‘Yes’ they respond!’
I believe that it is helpful for leaders to understand these categories in order to work with and support staff in their day-to-day work and, more importantly, provide appropriate continuous professional and personal development that will enhance staff positively.
I asked Dave what he will do in his retirement. He said, “Well, Laura I will be helping to look after my granddaughter and my other daughter who is a teacher. I will be going into her school twice a week to help the children with their reading,” So, the ‘calling’ continues!
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