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Professionals Do Their Duty – Even When They Don’t Feel Like It

Taking action based on both our assigned task and moral obligations.

“The Admin work doesn’t drive sales!” Every salesperson has said it at some point in their career. In fact, if you work in any profession, you have likely heard something similar. Whether we file reports, track metrics or process payroll—we all have administrative requirements in our jobs. You can’t get away from them. Trust me, I’ve tried!

When I worked in sales, and it was time for me to hire, I always chose results-oriented people. My thinking was, “If a team is full of results-oriented people, you tend to get results!” The problem in this hiring strategy comes in the fact the people who like to get results don’t like to pause and take care of the what they affectionately call “busywork.” As the leader of results-oriented people, it was my Duty—my moral obligation—to be sure they drove sales and got their administrative work in on time and accurately. I knew if only one person shirked their Duty and acted unprofessionally—it would negatively affect the whole team.

When I heard complaints about admin work, I reminded team members that they were getting paid a full salary for them to give full effort to all aspects of their job. We all expected 100% of our pay every two weeks. Therefore, the people who paid us were reasonable to expect 100% of our effort—even in the parts of our jobs we didn’t enjoy. That was our moral obligation.

There will always be parts of a job we don’t enjoy. That does not mean these tasks become optional because we don’t like them. To be Leaders of Character who lead teams of character, we need to set the example for the team we lead. We can’t be late. We shouldn’t blow off meetings. We need to follow through on commitments we wish we hadn’t made. Then, and only then, can we hold people accountable for taking care of the things they don’t like to do.

The leader sets the tone for exercising Duty on a team. If the leader takes action based on their assigned tasks and their moral obligations, the team will notice. That is when the team is most likely to buy into doing the parts of their jobs they don’t like.

Within my sales teams, I never had people who enjoyed processing paperwork or submitting reports to headquarters. In my early years, I joined in and complained about the “busywork” with them. When I realized I was contributing to the problem as much as they were, I recognized I needed to change my approach. First, I needed to stop making excuses for not completing my own administrative work and do my Duty. Next, I knew it was time to lead a discussion about our team’s approach to our own professionalism.

Professionals do the things they don’t like to do—even when they don’t feel like doing them. Every job has tasks which are not enjoyable. Yet, when we do our Duty and give those tasks our best, we are a professional. When we act like professionals and do our Duty, the team builds trust among themselves, across division lines and with the people they are called to serve outside the organization.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • What tasks do you try to avoid doing at work?

  • How does that affect the rest of your team?


Exercising Duty takes work and is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Duty daily, which is why we have created FREE tools and resources to guide your journey.

To make it easy to keep the definition of Duty visible on your screens and devices, we would like to share our FREE Duty backgrounds for desktop and mobile available for download at:

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