- Passion is an emotion, or set of emotions. You may want, indeed, that your people are passionate, but you can’t simply command it, train for it (have workshops about how to be passionate) or order ‘we will be passionate’.
- You can model it, yes. You, yourself can be passionate and then perhaps others will be passionate or behave passionately. If you as leader don’t know how to model it, don’t ask others. I’ve seen in my life many non passionate Leadership Teams declare passion as a value.
- Passion is always portrayed as an input. Insert passion, get good work. But in (my behavioural) view, passion is in fact an output. Do satisfying work, you’ll be passionate (I can hear the ‘It’s both brigade’ already). I repeat, do you want passion around? Do stuff people can feel passionate about.
- Passion as a value in a value system is lazy thinking. Who is against it? So that’s easy. It assumes that declaring it, stating it and putting it on the wall, it will happen. It does not take much to write it down in the mission and vision statement or the values. And then what?
- You can’t intellectually force passion on others. You can’t force or expect an emotional presence, say, in the same way as saying to employees ‘be happy’. If you want happy employees, give them the environment and wait, don’t declare the requirement for happiness first and expect people will create an environment for you.
- If you insist with the word, tell me what you want to see in people that, when seen, at a scale, you can say ‘that’s passion’. Then we could perhaps start a conversation about the behavioural translation of passion. No behavioural translation, don’t carry on. Leave it. Incidentally, be careful with the transcultural essence of passion. The potential for ridicule is enormous.
- If you think that given the above I am dismissing or ridiculing passion, nothing is further from the truth. Also, if so, I am doing a bad job. I love to work with people who exhibit passion for something, versus the alternative. But ‘the exhibition of passion’ does not equal a loud voice, high tone or clapping in the corridor. The quiet writer shaping characters on a piece of paper every morning with a cup of coffee, may be truly passionate about what is coming out, yet we may just see a gentle smile.
- The mistake I am talking about is the commoditising of passion in corporate life, the acquisition of the language of passion as an alibi for lack of critical thinking ((a) who could be against it? and (b) what is it?); the appropriation of an emotional space as input, when the effort should be driven to produce an output.
- Passion as emotion (see above) is energy, drive, adrenaline. These things are not good or bad intrinsically. High octane passion in the wrong direction will need a few dispassionate leaders to come to the rescue. Naive change management systems look for passionate people (whilst we in Viral Change™ we look for highly connected) expecting that they will ‘change things’. Yes, this is right, but in what direction?
- ‘Passion for technology’, ‘passion for customers’, ‘passion for X’ is (1) meaningless and (2) egocentric. The customer says, good for you, let’s see it. If you are a technology company and you tell me that you are passionate about technology, I will say congratulations, you seem to be in the right place. Now, tell me who the hell you are? I have another 25 saying the same.
Continue the conversation…..
Thought leader, keynote speaker and author, Dr Leandro Herrero is available for virtual speaking engagements. Find out more .
Leandro Herrero is frequently voted ‘Best Speaker’ at conferences worldwide. He also speaks to Boards and Leadership Teams, participates in other internal company conferences as a keynote speaker, and is available to run short seminars and longer workshops.
The topics of Leandro Herrero’s presentations and workshops relate to his work as an organizational architect.
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