Can You Cultivate Passion?

2009 July 21
by Kate O'Neill

Doctor N. Jump #1
Creative Commons License photo credit: TheeErin

Take a stroll through most corporate offices these days, and the attitudes you’ll often encounter are anxiety and skepticism, whether camouflaged or blatantly on display. With all the layoffs going on around us and friends and family out of work, it is difficult for many people to work up even a modest enthusiasm for their work, let alone passion.

Yet for businesses to succeed in a tight economy, they need dedicated, passionate people. How can a leader instill passion?

John Baldoni addressed this question in an article on the other day called How to Make People Passionate About Their Work. Some of the suggestions were:

Focus on the positive. Passion in leaders can be palpable; you know in an instant that the executive cares about the company. In my experience, those senior leaders who stroll through the halls with a nod or good word to say to all are those executives who get things done. And it is because they are out and about, not cloistered in their offices on mahogany row. Rather, they are meeting with employees and customers, vendors and investors, getting to know issues and concerns. They also use these times to talk up the good things.

Address the negatives. Passionate leaders are not Pollyannas; they know the score, precisely because they spend so much time out of their offices. They see firsthand what is working and what is not, and because they have a relationship with people in all levels of the company, they can more readily mobilize employees to solve problems.

At first blush these suggestions seem at odds. But it is vital to address both the reality of the situation and to foster hope for great outcomes. At the risk of sounding like a Jim Collins groupie, Good to Great addresses this as the “Stockdale Paradox,” citing it as one of the factors that allows great companies to survive difficult times and ultimately triumph.

(Moreover, in the book The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin relates management examples where leaders are able to “hold two conflicting ideas in constructive tension.” This is a skill we need as managers and executives.)

How are you rallying your teams to be passionate about their work? How are you, as an individual, cultivating your own passion? Tell us in the comments.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • FriendFeed
  • Squidoo
  • Technorati Favorites
  • Share/Bookmark
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline