52 minutes to a meaningful career: the role of service according to Martina Crepaz
ebbf has launched its third edition of the popular meaningful career series of learning dialogues. This series is titled “52 minutes to a meaningful career” and for the first topic in the series we chose service. And we decided to interview #MartinaCrepaz who leads ebbf’s member services team and originally had the idea to launch this series.
When you’re aiming for a meaningful career many objectives may come to mind, what about service? When you hear the word service in a work context what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
We had an open conversation about this topic with Martina Crepaz, one of our fellow members who has redefined her understanding of significant successful career in the past 3 years. (you can watch more of Martina’s own meaningful career path in this video interview)
“For me being at service means allowing and facilitating the growth of the people around me, and sometimes this is possible simply just being myself, fully connected to my core values!”
Martina sees service as a tool that could influence the development of other people around herself, like her colleagues and all the way up to her managers.
“Service gives me a sense of purpose and pride knowing that my day-to-day activities will have a short, medium and often long-term positive impact on the society, because I am aware that what I’m doing needs to go beyond only profit as such.”
Let’s explore more her vision around the concept of service.
Q: What have you observed to be different in workplaces that are more service-oriented vs ego oriented?
Well ego is often based on an old definition of success, I would say more materialistic, individualistic, power and money driven.
I believe new organizations (or organizations that have redefined their purpose) look at how their decisions will also impact not only society but also future generations.
In a more service-oriented organizations we are more likely to see that failures can be accepted for the sake of the growth of the individual, the team, and of the organization itself.
In this kind of workplaces, decisions are taken as a group instead as an individual and guidance and coaching are at the core of the leadership styles rather than that old top-down approach of dictating a strategy or the plan ahead. Now, in more service-oriented organizations we can experience a different, refreshed, and meaningful way of leading that allows people to come up with their own ideas. Thus, going forwards, I can only imagine experiencing a more vulnerable and open working environment, where people have the opportunity to also fail and learn from their mistakes.
In other words, we are shifting from a leadership style of a sort of dictatorship towards more inclusiveness and engagement of all the stakeholders. And when I talk about stakeholders, I refer to both internal and external, all the way to the external society that will somehow be impacted by the service, or the product sold by the company. In fact, in the most successful companies we can see everyone, from senior managers down to the most recently hired staff embrace an employee and customer-centric thinking. This is proven to be critical to ensure the long-term success of the company.
Q: Can you describe a work environment that you lived in yourself, where the ego of the owner of the company was at the centre?
I can definitely relate to that very ego-driven, owner-centred type of companies where everything done and planned is for the financial benefit of the owner.
Interestingly enough, I believe that at the core this man had a pure vision at the very beginning of his career but somehow it kind of got contaminated and lost along the way.
Don’t we see something similar happening in politics too? Generation after generation we witness young politicians with new and reinvigorated vision, more human-centric and really focus on the needs and betterment of the society. However, while climbing the ladder on the way to a more senior position (where they can actually influence) systematically that pure vision gets destructively manipulated and corrupted. They get influenced or negatively exposed to the point where they disregard their original vision.
I think that is what happened with this man I was working for. I truly believe that he started his journey as an entrepreneur with good intentions. However, once he started being exposed maybe to a more American-driven guru-influencer-style of leadership (that was naturally surrounding him due to the nature of the industry where the objective is to be a sort of prophet and wise man) he kind of lost his initial vision of having a positive impact and helping people develop to the best version of themselves to an ego-centric profit-driven aim.
Every time the team was trying to go a little bit off the road, implementing new strategies and new services more focused on the development of clients, he was always trying to find a way to generate more revenue from each transaction, instead of allowing generous growth.
It was a very demotivating work environment, where we did not see any incentive to create and implement good, innovative new ideas.
Q: You mentioned the journey that some leaders go through, from an initial pure intention to being polluted into an ego driven one.
Have you seen the opposite happening, with people awakening to a better way, from ego to service?
Thankfully there are several examples that come to my mind, but I could limit myself by simply sharing my own personal journey.
In a way I have never really been so ego-centric, but with no doubts my definition of success has definitely changed from being materialistic and money-driven to more service oriented. From a dream of recognized social and economic status to a daily celebration of positive impact.
Part of my journey has been to move physically to a new country and to a location like Malaga in the South of Spain that is attracting a number of people who question their life and professional objectives and are now in a career shift. So, I am currently surrounded by people who made it, or are currently in this positive journey to becoming more valuable human beings.
Moving from Stockholm, one of the most rich and consumerist society, to Malaga, one of most bountiful and welcoming cities in Europe, gave me a completely different perspective about my purpose in life.
Q: Did you notice a pattern, triggers that more frequently sparked this journey from ego to service?
Yes, I sense that the majority of people probably have a materialistic definition of success, simply influenced by our educational journey where we were continuously told that the aim was becoming a CEO or a top manager of this and that company, earning a certain amount of money, providing family with material wellbeing… So yes, there was a much more capitalistic definition of success that we have grown up with.
I think that people who have managed to do the shift are those who are strong in their values. They just lost focus being drawn into that greedy way of being that surrounded them and for a while they could not define clearly what their values were. But then, very often, comes that “awakening” moment. People unfortunately hit a wall of frustration and disappointment. After bringing out-of-the-box ideas to the desk of management so many times, with a profit-driven answer (often a big NO), the only result can be that wake-up call that makes you realize that all you are doing makes no sense, because you are not contributing in any meaningful way. And the only thing you can do is giving a step back, reconnecting with your values and your vision, surrounding yourself with like-minded people and restarting with revamped energy!
Q: From what you were saying it sounds as if external forces push you away from your original nature and then also pull you back…
Yes, and just think of children. I have this idea that as babies we are all born with a gentle and pure heart and with an innate moral compass. However, we all change along the day, get corrupted by the greed and inequality caused by the class system imposed by our society. As adults we develop a sense of right and wrong, a desire to do good and, at times, a capacity to do terrible things. We cultivate fears, talents but also ineptitudes because we are continuously influenced by an external society.
Probably it requires a full life sometimes to go back to your original value-driven pure self.
Q: What happens when you get back to that purity? What changes? What happens in you?
First there is a great frustration coming out like “how couldn’t I notice that before? Where did I lose sight of what is important? Where did I lose track of my life?” It is a massive disappointment with yourself. You get upset with yourself asking “how could I allow myself to get there?”.
After going through that storm of not accepting the journey that you have taken until that moment, there is a kind of a reconnection. A welcomed acceptance that “Yes I can still make a contribution” and you realise that in order to make that contribution you need to step outside the current track.
And that is a really nice, liberating feeling of clarity, of energy, of possibilities… particularly if shared with like-minded people, like the fellow ebbf friends I could meet along this journey.
Q: Quick answers now: To serve means …
… giving your very best to make others grow
Q: When you serve you feel …
Q: When you observe a servant leader you feel …
Q: When service wins over ego you feel …
Q: What’s the colour of service?
My colour of service is red.
Because you think service is weak and bland but actually it is red like passion!
I strongly believe that in order to best serve you need to be passionate about what you are doing and sharing. You need to be able to motivate and inspire other people as well. To have that motivational inspiration it is key to look passionate about what you are saying, about the way you are living, giving the example of how it can be done and how good it is to serve.”
We look forward to seeing you enjoy one of the next “52 minutes to a meaningful career” series of online learning and exploration dialogues.