Purpose: The concept of "career" has become the dominant mode of thinking about the "lifespan" of one's working life in contemporary late capitalist society. The research literature on the concept of "vocation" and/or "calling" has grown in recent years, but has not yet received extensive treatment in the area of management career development. The purpose of this paper is to address this lacuna by outlining and describing the practice of vocational ideation (or considering one's work as calling, as opposed to a career or a job) in relation to its potential utilization in contemporary management and career development. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is essentially conceptual and is informed by an extensive review of research literature and theory which examines how the concept of the "calling" has been integrated with learning, educational and developmental activities. Findings: The paper discusses the implications of the return to the concept of "vocation" in HR and Management Development theory and demonstrates why "calling" is a small but significant nuance which can change the way in which managers engage with career development practices. The literature on introducing the concept of vocational ideation to career development activities has grown in research years. However, the literature review found that this body of work tends to focus on pre-experience college students, which indicates that it has not often been considered as a viable avenue for management development practice or research. Research limitations/implications: As the paper is purely conceptual, and most of the literature in this field tends to focus on pre-experience students, potential implications for practice and avenues for future research are outlined. One of the two main categories of research need which emerged from the conceptual work described in this paper in relation to vocationally oriented career ideation was concerned with developing an understanding the dynamics of introducing the concept of vocational calling into management career development interventions. Practical implications: A template for "doing" for vocational ideation in a management career development or management development context was offered. This outline may be altered to assist management development practitioners to develop and augment vocational ideation initiatives as part of their work and professional practice. Social implications: Another area of research need emerging from this work was concerned with understanding changing perspectives on non-economic aspects of work as a social practice, the impact of culture on how vocations are understood, and the relationship between spirituality and meaningfulness and career behavior. In summary there appears to be a need for more studies which demonstrate how changed understandings of the vocation is reflective of broader social change. Originality/value: The concept of vocational ideation is original and does not exist as a concept or a practice in the professional or research literature. It is discussed here in the context of the growth of interest in spirituality and religion in workplaces. Specific attention is given to how it can be applied in contemporary workplaces and organizations as part of management development practices. Â© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.