Passion is the driving force that enables people to attain far more than they ever imagined. Without passion there is no drive to succeed. It is the fuel of the will, and everything you do as a leader must express your passion. Passion is contagious and is easily shared. Passion will bridge moments of weakness, and will drive you past your failures while reaching for your goals. Passion radiates from you and is easily detected by others.
Passion is not style. There are a lot of different styles -- charismatic, quiet, confident. But it all comes down to this motivating sense of commitment to what you do. Vince Lombardi said “the difference between success and failure is energy … fired with enthusiasm.”
Enthusiasm; intensity about a subject; willingness to engage others on their terms with respect to the threats and possibilities; deep knowledge about the subject; examples from one's own experience - all of these are marks of passion. These are attributes that can be studied, learned, and acquired over time. They grow from believing that there must be a better way for your organization to survive and prosper in a competitive world.
Passion is literally the fuel that propels you toward success. Passion allows you to think, feel, focus, act, attract and create the events conditions and circumstances that you most desire to see you through difficult times. Passion is what propels you to begin taking the necessary action steps that will allow you to begin changing your current situation.
Lean leaders harness the passion of their team to bring about change. Even if this passion is against the leader’s change, it is still valuable since a leader knows that resistance to change is far better than apathy. The stronger the resistance, the stronger the energy that’s available. So leaders dig deeper to understand the source of the resistance and either rethink the change based on the wisdom they uncover, or they harness and realign the energy of that resistance.
A leader without passion isn’t a leader. He’s a paper pusher. Or a taskmaster. Passion drives a lot, and you can inspire so much in others through your own passion and enthusiasm. That doesn’t mean you have to be constantly cheery, it means you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing and what your company is doing.
Strong leaders engage people’s hearts. They build ever-deeper passion and commitment. The key leadership word is “care.” When we care about our work, we will often be harder on ourselves than anyone else would dare to be. When we really care about the customers we serve, we’ll go out of our way to ensure that each “moment of truth” (contact with customers) is as positive as we can make it. When we care about making our organization successful, we’ll go above and beyond our job to do whatever it takes to be part of a winning team. When we care about our products or services, we’ll do whatever it takes to continue feeling proud of what we do.
Passion isn’t something you can expect or mandate. You can, however, create the conditions for passion to be unleashed. Because leaders value passion, it is only natural that they expect passion in the workplace.
Great leaders take vision and passion to the next step by investing their time and energy to create environments in which employees are engaged in meaningful work and eager to contribute. When this is realized, the result is competitive advantage.