What role does passion play in leadership?
Is it important?
Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch (the Supreme Commander of the WW I armies in the last year of the war) thought so:
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
The early twentieth century writer, E. M. Forster, agreed with him:
“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.”
Followers are looking for a lot of things in their leaders (integrity, confidence, competence, etc.) and high on the list is passion. They want to know that the leader really cares deeply, that there is fire in his/her soul that will endure when their journey together gets tough, and at some point it will get tough, or tiresome, or scary. They want to know that your flame will keep burning even when being drenched by discouragement, by detours, by delays, by defeats.
So if you want to lead, you’ll need passion for it or you’ll burn out before reaching the finish line. John Maxwell puts it this way:
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
Imagine that. It is not your position—CEO, manager, owner, senior pastor, etc.—that makes you a leader. What makes you a leader is when people voluntarily choose to follow you on a journey of change. And before they’ll choose you, one of the main things they look for is passion for the journey; passion that burns deeply.
In the Leader’s Soul On Fire (#2), I’ll discuss the five dimensions of passion that you need to lead at a high level.
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner