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Passionately Leading Your People

Dr Andrea Howell
Change consultant; former University Lecturer & Organisational Quality Manager

Dear Business Leader

Passion – remember that word?

Passion is about something you love doing constantly. A passion for football, or travelling, or even for the work you do. Research has shown that passionate workers establish a deep connection with their work, perceiving their job as an essential component of their identity that reflects their true selves. This state of mind holds a sense of purpose, defines meaning in work, and contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing.

Besides holding a passion for work, employees also seek a ‘passionate’ leader.  A 2024 report from Arbinger Institute (a leadership development firm focused on transforming organisations by changing mindsets) reveals employees want their leaders to remember the critical role they play:

They’re the architects of innovation, the drivers of progress, and the heartbeat of a thriving workplace. Recognizing that individuals are not cogs in a machine, but unique contributors with passions and potentials, is the key to unlocking limitless possibilities. When people feel acknowledged, heard, and valued, they become dedicated catalysts for change

Leadership therefore is an important aspect in steering change as well as in guiding and developing employees. The association between empowering leadership and fostering positive employee attitudes, including job satisfaction, engagement, commitment and wellbeing, is well documented in research. High performing leaders effectively join the dots between what we do and why we do it collectively but the passion comes from a deep internalisation of the ‘what’ or purpose and ‘why’ or the desire to make a meaningful contribution.

If, in your organisation, there is no opportunity for me to express my passion, to bond my passion to the organisation’s values, goals and ways of working; then my commitment wanes. The performance reviews don’t help me understand my impact on either the organisation’s goals, or my peers. If there is no interest in me as a person and what I’m striving to achieve in my work life AND outside of work, then I find myself searching for an employer who will be interested.

I, as many others, look to you as a role model to instil a calling beyond the desire of executing a strategy and managing well for profit, performance, and posterity. What is it you ache for? Have you achieved your passion?

Passion is contagious – so is not having it – Tim McClure