Is Leadership Without Passion Really Leadership?


Let me start this post with a few questions:

  1. Are you a passionate leader?
  2. Is it possible to lead without passion?
  3. Will people really follow you if you are not passionate about what you are doing?

When I reflect on my personal experience as a leader my response to the first question is sometimes.  There were times throughout my leadership career when I was very passionate about what my group was charged with accomplishing.   During my periods of passionate leadership I would wake up in the morning looking forward to starting my day with excitement and anticipation.  The day would be one interesting challenge after another and I would lose track of time.  It was truly a “flow” experience.  I also noticed during those times that most of my team was equally excited because I was always communicating my vision and they would witness my passion throughout the day.

There were other times in my leadership career when I wasn’t a passionate leader.  I would wake up at my usual time and drive into the office out of a sense of obligation and self discipline.  I worked just as hard, but each day dragged on, and I couldn’t wait to get home.  As you can imagine, this impacted my team as well.  They were not as excited, or passionate about what they were doing either.  You may find it interesting to note that a number of times I had the same team, both when I was passionate, and when I wasn’t but due to shifts in responsibilities our roles had changed.

I had the good fortune over the years to have worked for organizations that were dedicated to leadership development.  I had the privilege of going to many leadership and management workshops.  As a result of these experiences I became dedicated to my own leadership development and applied much of what I was learning.  However, the success of my application of what I was learning was not consistent.  I didn’t know why until I read this quote:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world.”

The proverbial light bulb went on and I gained some valuable insights regarding leadership:

  1. Leadership without passion is not leadership, you are simply going through the motions with very few followers.
  2. With passion, you can be a very effective leader even if you have not yet developed leadership skills.
  3. The answer to the age-old question of, “are leaders born or developed?”, is that it is both.  We are all natural born leaders when we align what we do with our passion.  We all can become better leaders through training and coaching.
  4. Leadership development in the absence of passion will only make us better managers.
  5. Sometimes we can find our passion in our current roles with nothing more than a change in mindset.

Please share your thoughts on passion and leadership by commenting below.  If you would like to learn more about finding your passion and passionate leadership please complete your contact information below.

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