Unlike emotion, which can be here today and gone tomorrow, and unlike sentiment or nostalgia, which invoke warm fuzzies and not much else, passion creates dissatisfaction with the status quo and fuels an enduring desire to do something. Passion will not rest easy; passion must act. Passion is essential for effective leadership. Why? Because leaders are defined by what they do, not by who they are. Passion will lead to doing! Management expert E. M. Forster makes the point clear: “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.”
Now, before you get too upset, I’m not saying that who you are (personality, character, etc.) is unimportant. It is important—very important. Who you are has a lot to do with your potential to lead. However, potential to do something and actually doing it are not the same. Integrity is essential for leaders, but people will not follow you just because you are honest. If you are a visionary, that’s great. But people will not follow you just because you dream great dreams. There are a lot of honest visionaries who never accomplish their dreams because they fail at the task of leading.
I know this may sound harsh, but there aren’t any books written about men and women who accomplished little or nothing, no matter how honest they were or how great their vision was. So, I’ll say it clearly: leaders are defined by what they do, and passion is essential for action, for doing.
It is not your position—CEO, manager, owner, senior pastor—that makes you a leader. What makes you a leader is that people choose to follow you on a journey of change. Before they’ll voluntarily go with you, though, one of the main things they look for is your passion for the journey. They want to know that you really care and that the fire in your soul will endure when the journey together gets tough (because at some point it will get tough, or tiresome, or scary). They want to know their leader’s flame will keep burning even when drenched by discouragement, delayed by detours, or set back by defeats.
So if you want to lead, you’ll need passion for leading or you’ll burn out before reaching the finish line. In The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell puts it this way: “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
Excerpt from 16 Stones, chapter 2. Order info on hard-lessons.com.
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© Copyright 2015 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner