Leadership is influence. To have influence over others, they need to connect with where you are taking them. People connect with passion.
A person can have position and authority without passion for sure, but not leadership. There are way too many people with authority and position who are not leaders, they just have a title. It’s no wonder so many people don’t like their boss and are looking for a different job. It’s not money, it’s passion and purpose that keep good people. The proof is in churches and non-profits. Any effective church or non-profit of any size has people who give time and energy to propel the organization forward. Often these folks put forth all of this effort for free or for little pay. There are people working in non-profits and churches who could easily make considerably more money elsewhere, but don’t because they have a passion for what they are doing. That often started when they connected with the passion of another. Yet, athletes can make millions but will leave quickly for more money or to go someplace with a leader they can connect with. Passion is more powerful than money.
This is why it is so essential for a leader. People sometimes follow causes, but generally people follow leaders. They follow the one they connect with and find purpose and meaning, reason.
Passion alone isn’t enough. Just because someone has passion doesn’t mean they are a leader. There are many of those folks out there as well. You see them at ball parks and stadiums all the time. Full of passion, but leading no one.
However, a leader must have passion. Must.
Passion cannot be faked or conjured. It can be nurtured and grown. It can be built. It is something we need to constantly monitor because it can also wane and fade. Keeping passion strong is the responsibility of the leader. It’s not something that can be delegated or outsourced.
Passion is powerful and can motivate us towards greatness. It also leaves a void when it fades and can leave us empty and lifeless if we don’t keep it burning.
I love our fireplace. It is so nice to sit in front of a warm raging fire. If I don’t keep the fire fueled, it will eventually die out and all that is left is cold, grey ash in a dark hole. But, if it is stoked, if it is fed, the fire will rage strong and even grow consuming all that comes near.
Passion is the same way. It must be stoked and fueled.
So where do we get passion? How do we maintain it?
Where it comes from is hard to specify because it is different for everyone. In short, it comes from within and is influenced by personality, likes, abilities, experiences, perspective, and other factors that make us each unique.
It’s easier to describe how we find it. We look around, we pay attention. What drives us? What draws us? Compels us? In those things we must each find what it is we are passionate enough about to devote our life direction to it. As leaders, we must find what is so compelling to us that we want to take others with us on the journey. What is that purpose? What is that cause? What is that thing that energizes us?
Maintain it and growing it takes intentionality and diligence. It also means we keep things simple. Passion gets crowded out by other things over time. We see it happen in relationships. The newlywed couple that can’t keep eyes and hands off each other slowly drift into patterns and routines of life and one day look up and forget what they saw in the other person. A person who starts out seeking to change the world and champion a great cause gets caught up in the details of an organization and dealing with regulations, laws, and finances and ends up walking away from the cause.
We stoke our passion by staying close to the purpose, close to what caught us in the first place. We can never let ourselves get too far away from the purpose. We can never let ourselves get so caught in the details of implementation that we loose sight of the why we started. A leader must stay involved with the main purpose and he/she has to constantly readjust to make sure that everything is still on track toward the intended goals.
Passion is essential for leadership.