Leading with Passion
We reserve the word passion to describe those activities or products that we really believe in and want to share with others. When you are passionate about an activity, you do it for the sheer pleasure it gives you, and you want it (whatever it is) to be the best. You want to make a difference in something larger than your life—you want to change the lives of others.
To be more effective, you must share your passion any time you enlist others in your quest. You want your employees to help you realize the corporate mission.
People want to be inspired. They want to be part of something meaningful and successful. According to Richard Chang, author of The Passion Plan at Work: Building a Passion-Driven Organization, “Passion is the single most powerful competitive advantage an organization can claim in building its success.” Stressing that passion is a motivator and a unifier, that it provides direction and focus, and attracts both employees and customers, Chang suggests that when a company has the skills and resources it needs to succeed, “passion can put it over the top.” Chang cites passionate organizations such as MindSpring, Southwest Airlines, and Ben & Jerry’s as examples that demonstrate what passion is and how it supports accomplishing corporate missions and achieving profitability.
If you are passionate about your organization, a product, or an idea, how do you communicate that passion? Here are some suggestions:
- Explain your vision of how the future can be – with and without your product, idea or service.
- Use examples and provocative phrases (look at the speeches of Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill for excellent examples of passion-based inspiration).
- Show your excitement and commitment through your own work-life.
- Incorporate the ideas of others than facilitate reaching your vision.
- Help your employees feel part of something important, something transformative – tell them about the difference they are making.
- Work hard at translating your passion into examples and actions that your employees can relate to.
You learn to be a better leader by emulating the behavior of leaders you respect as well as developing your own natural leadership style. Think about men or women who have been inleadership positions over you, and answer these questions:
- What were the characteristics of leaders that motivated you to follow them?
- Did others respond in the same way? If not, why do you think they were not persuaded?
- Can you think of ways that these leaders could have been more effective?