The more I research, discuss and teach leadership topics, the more these two words surface: Passion and Purpose. Whether the topic is Motivation or Change Management or Strategic Planning – there they are; not on the surface, but underneath…at the centre…at the root.
The fundamental truth that keeps coming to me is that every one of us was created with an innate need to create and contribute to society in specific ways (our passion) and by doing so, realize a sense of purpose for our life. These needs are powerful driving forces that permeate every aspect of our lives. This is important to understand as a leader, since so many leadership decisions can impact on the passions and sense of purpose for those that report to us.
The organization, of course, is an ideal setting for someone to passionately use their gifts and talents. When a person is working in their area of passion and when they are truly sensing that their contribution is making a difference, it shows. They glow! And for those members of an organization, there is optimism and engagement, creativity and productivity. Unfortunately, in many organizations, individual passions and purpose are secondary considerations. If the organizational deadlines are met and forecasts are realized, the organization will ‘reward’ its members with training and other opportunities to foster their passions. But, if fostering individual passions and aligning purposes became management’s priority focus, they would realize that the collective drive of their people to contribute to society would propel the organization far beyond its projections.
Passion and purpose are the magic behind intrinsic motivation. And intrinsic motivation is the key to a self-motivated and fulfilled workforce… the kind of workforce that will outperform expectations, create the next marvel for society and, yes, meet the deadlines!
So, the natural question is: How can we create this marriage of job and passion in each of the members of our organization? (I’m so glad you asked!!)
The leader plays the critical role in the ‘match-making’ since the leader has the personal relationship with their direct reports and the authority to assign work. The task then is to marry the team member with the work of the organization that ‘lights their candle’. Simple, right?! Well no; actually this turns out to be nothing short of a full time job, but the rewards are worth it! First, find ways to support individual aspirations, and then release them to be the passionate, creative beings they were meant to be, only reining them in temporarily when necessary to provide new information or fill in a form and then release them again.
In the end, the passion and purpose of every leader should be to ignite the passion and purpose in others. Try it, you might find you ignite your own passion!