Passion.Try to explain what passion means.Go ahead.Give it a try.Maybe you will say that it is a life goal or mission.Certainly, that might be the case.Perhaps you will say that passion is an emotional tie to some end.You might even say that it is energy or enthusiasm for a particular purpose.In each of these cases you would be right.
Leaders in particular need passion.Several other leadership experts have confirmed this.Warren Bennis wrote, “The leader loves what he or she does and loves doing it.”Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee taught “What makes the difference is finding passion for the work, for the strategy, and for the vision”.Finally, Kouzes and Posner affirmed, “We’re not going to follow someone who’s mildly enthusiastic about something.They have to be wildly enthusiastic for us to give it our all.”
The thought then is at what level does this passion need to begin?Who within the organization is responsible for passion?I would suggest that passion begins at the top.Now, you might shrug this off and say, “Well, of course it does.Where else would it start?”So, to answer your question with a question, I would ask, as a leader, don’t you want everyone in the company to feel passionate about what he or she does?Furthermore, don’t you want everyone in the company to feel passionate about the mission and purpose of the organization?Clearly you would.Even the part-time custodians?Yes, even the part-time custodians, even the dishwashers, even the landscaper.The easy answer is that the more people who can tout the praises of the company, the larger the impact, the greater the marketing tool.And, to be quite frank, who better to beat your drum than every last one of the employees.But, I would go one step further and tell you that passion within an organization should be directly proportional to leadership position.Let’s consider this for a few minutes.
As a first-line manager, certainly I would want my subordinates to demonstrate energy and enthusiasm for what they do.I would want them to see the direct connection between what they do and the overall mission of our work.How, then, do they feel this exuberance?Well, you could be lucky and have employed that individual who just comes to you bubbling over with excitement and joy, who is self-driven and has dreamed their whole life about working for your company….But, the chances of that are small, practically nil.Typically, your constituents are going to emulate the passion that you will display.Sounds like a big responsibility, doesn’t it?Well, that is because it is.To your subordinates, you, yes you personally, are the company.I know you are just a first-line manager, but you are the whole company.You are all that this employee sees.
Alright, so where do you get your passion.Were you the bubbling over-joyed worker spoke of earlier?Chances are…probably not.I would argue that you get your passion from your supervisor.And, amazingly enough they get it from their supervisor who emulates their supervisor and so forth and so on until you reach the president of the organization.It also makes sense that some of that energy is lost between the organizational positions.So, let’s take a president who is mildly enthusiastic.By the time you get down to the dishwasher, how much of that enthusiasm is still alive.I would venture to guess very little.
I would submit, therefore, that the president of any organization should be…no, must be, the biggest cheerleader for the company.The president must be just ecstatic about the mission and purpose of the institution.The president must be wildly enthusiastic about all that the company does.At times, a lower level manager may roll his eyes as the tone and exhilaration is felt from the over-zealous president who so eagerly shares the strengths and achievements of the company.
The next time you find yourself being the eye roller, just think:If the president did not show that much interest and elation, how much passion would the dishwasher have?How much would you have?Remember, passion and position must be directly proportional.