Within the context of an ethnographic study of leadership in the learning and skills sector, this article focuses on the role of leadership in making stafffeel valued (Iszatt-White & Mackenzie-Davey, 2003) and the‘emotional labour’ (Hochschild, 1983) through which leaders’ valuing practices are accomplished. By shadowing college leaders, observation was made of the day-to-day practices through which they sought to give staff a feeling of being valued. The article provides evidence of such‘valuing practices’ before going on to explicate the notion of emotional labour— previously researched largely in the services sector— in the professional context of educational leadership. In doing so, it differentiates professional emotional labour from‘emotional intelligence’ (Goleman, 1995), a more common theme within the management literature. It also explores the role of social identity and value congruence in moderating the‘emotional dissonance’(Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993) which can result from a requirement for prolonged emotion work.
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