Passion Starts with Purpose

Passion Starts with Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that ignites passion and high performance in companies where I coach. What comes to mind is the message of Simon Sinek: If you haven’t clearly articulated the “why” of your business, people will struggle to be engaged in the “what” their job requires. In his brilliant 2009 TED Talk and book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek emphasizes there has to be a reason—a purpose—for today’s workers to commit and give their best efforts to an organization: “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. If you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” Employees who don’t know how their job contributes to the organization’s purpose—and who cannot clearly articulate this purpose—are unable to give their wholehearted participation. Igniting passion starts with defining your personal and company purpose: your beliefs, values, passions, principles and connection to the company’s mission. Purpose isn’t what a group does, but why it performs. Defining your purpose is just the first step. Leaders must activate people’s emotions and desires. Purpose and Passion If having a purpose encourages people to do the right things, then passion motivates them to give extraordinary performance. “To put it bluntly, the most important task for any manager today is to create a work environment that inspires exceptional contribution and that merits an outpouring of passion, imagination and initiative.” ~ Gary Hamel, What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition,...
Igniting Passion and Performance

Igniting Passion and Performance

Look at today’s top-performing companies, and you’ll inevitably find a high degree of employee engagement. From frontline workers to CEOs, people are passionate about their companies’ purpose, values and mission. Most workers are motivated to give their best and often go beyond what’s required. Some are lucky enough to work for companies that are consistently designated a “best place to work.” But for countless other organizations, only 20% of employees say they’re excited about work. They show up to earn a paycheck. At most, they aim to achieve personal success and climb the promotion ladder. In the first workplace, people are passionate. In the latter, they’re looking out for themselves, with management struggling to realize performance goals. We can attribute the difference to organizational factors like hierarchy, processes, incentives and, often, personalities. But the real culprit may be their leaders’ failure to ignite passion. I see this in many of the businesses where I consult and coach. Leaders don’t see emotional factors as relevant to performance, except for when things go wrong. Passion Principles For years, we’ve been learning how workplace performance depends on emotional factors like engagement, culture, values and a sense of purpose. But many leaders and managers ignore the need to foster employee connection to the corporate mission. While most leaders are highly experienced in financial planning, capital budgeting, and organizational structure and strategies, most receive no formal training in building, leveraging or measuring employee passion. Engagement surveys are a reasonable way to gauge passion levels, but they cannot capture what it looks like or how to increase it. We usually see successful startups filled with...
How Great Leaders Ignite Passion and Performance

How Great Leaders Ignite Passion and Performance

Look at today’s top-performing companies, and you’ll inevitably find a high degree of employee engagement. From frontline workers to CEOs, people are passionate about their companies’ purpose, values and mission. Most workers are motivated to give their best and often go beyond what’s required. Some are lucky enough to work for companies that are consistently designated a “best place to work.” But for countless other organizations, only 20% of employees say they’re excited about work. They show up to earn a paycheck. At most, they aim to achieve personal success and climb the promotion ladder. In the first workplace, people are passionate. In the latter, they’re looking out for themselves, with management struggling to realize performance goals. We can attribute the difference to organizational factors like hierarchy, processes, incentives and, often, personalities. But the real culprit may be their leaders’ failure to ignite passion. Passion Principles For years, we’ve been learning how workplace performance depends on emotional factors like engagement, culture, values and a sense of purpose. But many leaders and managers ignore the need to foster employee connection to the corporate mission. While most leaders are highly experienced in financial planning, capital budgeting, and organizational structure and strategies, most receive no formal training in building, leveraging or measuring employee passion. Engagement surveys are a reasonable way to gauge passion levels, but they cannot capture what it looks like or how to increase it. We usually see successful startups filled with hordes of passionate people, yet we view them as anomalies—unique because of their youthful culture or trendy products. We seldom imagine older, more traditional companies as hotbeds of...