Find Your Personal Passion

Find Your Personal Passion

At some point in your career, you may sense a creeping malaise. You’re no longer enthusiastic about the day ahead. When did your brilliant career become the daily grind? What happened to your passion? “We hear a great deal of talk about the midlife crisis of the executive. It is mostly boredom.” ~ Peter Drucker, management expert “What do I do if I don’t have passion?” and “How do I sustain passion?” are two questions that often come up in coaching sessions. Let’s face it, after 20-30 years of all-too-familiar work, you’re good at your job, but you may not be learning or contributing as much. You might not feel challenged or particularly satisfied. Bosses can be unpleasant, your favorite project is scuttled, and work starts to stagnate. Your position may feel like it’s reduced to reports, meetings, and difficult coworkers. When your job is no longer enjoyable or meaningful, your energy sags, motivation lags, tasks go undone, and you make mistakes. You think about switching jobs, but this presents additional risks, similar to changing seats on the Titanic. Yet staying in a job that’s going nowhere, filled with mind-numbing work, can mean resigning yourself to a lack of growth and meaning. It doesn’t have to be that way. Not if you’re working with a coach. Loss of passion is one of the primary reasons to use a coach. It may be time to explore work/life issues of purpose and meaning. Unfortunately, most of us dismiss these early symptoms and try to fix things on our own.  If you’re one of those who quickly dismisses creeping stagnation, pay attention....
Leadership Tips for Sparking Passion

Leadership Tips for Sparking Passion

In recent days, I’ve been writing about the elusiveness of passion at work, and how important it is for leaders to pay attention to passion, unleash it, and reward those who put their enthusiasm into work. Personal passions – when aligned with company purpose and values – is a powerful force for boosting high performance. But it won’t happen without forethought. It’s not good enough for leaders to assume they’ll know it when they see it and leave it up to their people to bring it on. They must have personal familiarity for what drives passion at work in their domain and set the platform for others by articulating clear values and purpose. Furthermore, no one can get passionate and perform over and beyond expectations without autonomy and responsibilities. Leaders who insist on controls and top-down management will struggle to get grass roots participation. Formal hierarchies are typically miserable at driving innovation and creativity. Participative management styles, on the other hand, are good at creating cultures where ideas and passion can grow and flourish. Are managers convinced, however, that less control and more autonomy is possible for improved productivity and performance? It remains to be seen. Most of the managers I work with, don’t want to hand over their managerial controls. Here are a few suggestions for unleashing passion and performance where you work, from Red Hat’s CEO Jim Whitehurst. In The Open Organization, Whitehurst suggests five key leadership tips: Passion is contagious. When leaders display emotion, others will follow. Most companies have a stated purpose or mission. Integrate it into your dialogue with others on a daily basis....
Linking Passion to Performance

Linking Passion to Performance

When leaders encourage a culture in which employees take psychological ownership, even average employees can perform at high levels. Purpose and passion create meaning and excitement at work. You achieve workplace engagement when employees apply this energy to specific tasks that drive your company’s success. In my experience working within corporations, leaders could be a lot more communicative about strategy, and let every employee know what’s going on with the business, including financials. One company that does this well is HCL Technologies, where the company intranet openly publishes strategy, budgets for all employees to see and even performance reviews of leaders themselves. In Employees First, Customers Second, CEO Vineet Nayar recounts how he defied the conventional wisdom that companies must put customers first, then turned the hierarchical pyramid upside down by making management accountable to the employees, and not the other way around. In doing so, Nayar fired the passion and imagination of both employees and customers and set HCL on a transformative journey making it one of the fastest-growing and profitable global IT services companies and, according to BusinessWeek, one of the twenty most influential companies in the world. HCL managers must ensure their direct reports understand how individual performance contributes to overall long-term success. Most executives believe they communicate well, but they tend to overestimate their abilities. The more frequently you speak to values and higher purposes, the more others will follow your lead. "People are most fulfilled and happiest when their work is aligned with their own inner passions. Personal passion, corporate purpose and business performance all go together." John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, Conscious Capitalism,...
Recognize and Reinforce Passion

Recognize and Reinforce Passion

Passion is a strong like for something—an enthusiasm usually rooted in personal values, identity and cultural preferences. The term is often used in context with strong beliefs:  religious fervor, political views or desire for another’s love. We may also be passionate about our leisure activities. In the context of work, passion refers to strong emotions that drive energy and engagement. To foster passion, leaders must set the stage by openly sharing their own desires and emotional interests. When leaders are unafraid to show their own excitement, others will follow suit. Great leaders recognize and reward people whose passion drives them beyond basic job requirements. When employees openly express passion for their work, you must recognize and honor it; otherwise, you risk losing it. In a truly engaged workplace, everyone relies on peers for praise and acknowledgment. A leader must encourage this. When an employee goes above and beyond expectations, make sure others find out about it. A company intranet or bulletin board is a great way to spread and share kudos. Company Culture, Events and Team Projects You can reinforce your company’s culture and brand in many ways, but the most important may be trumpeting grass-roots ideas. "Once you give power to the community [of workers] to make decisions, its members begin to apply that responsibility in interesting and powerful ways. ~ Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, in The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015) When people offer their ideas, make sure they’re heard and responded to within a reasonable time frame. Emails should never be ignored or delayed. If you want people...
Hire for Passion

Hire for Passion

The quickest way to infuse passion and high performance into a company culture is to hire for it in the first place. But how do you hire for passion? Know anyone who’s so passionate about his work that he has a company logo tattooed somewhere on his body? Admittedly, certain companies involved in software, social media and video gaming are more likely to have young, cult-like followers. Red Hat, the open-source Linux technology company, and Razer, the gaming hardware developer, are two examples. When people are truly passionate about their interests and values, they eagerly express it in many ways. Companies harness this passion by encouraging a “raving fan-like” attitude among employees and customers. This can happen only when leaders provide a platform for passion. Zappos, the large online shoe store known for its customer service, hires talent whose personal values align with the company’s core values. The best candidates have a genuine interest in helping others. It starts at the hiring process. How do you find people who believe in the same values you and your company represent? You probably won’t unearth them using boring, conventional interview questions. You need to do more than determine someone’s skills, education and experience. You must ascertain whether candidates are a cultural fit. It’s hard to tell if a candidate is excited because she desperately wants a job vs. a job at your company. The best people to gauge true passion, interest and fit already work for you, so let them participate in candidate interviews. Future peers are likely to learn valuable information about potential new hires. When it comes to interview...