Leadership Quality #12: Passion – Take This Life and Love it

When a leader reaches out in passion, he/she is usually met with an answering passion

This morning I was at a coaches networking group where the Belgian speaker is a lover of sports and sporting analogies, and I loved his conversation about being in a participation, podium or winning mindset – and how Belgium, under the vision of their Sports Minister, has really shifted from just being excited to send a team to the Olympics to now being focused on podium results and winning. And look how well their team did at the recent Soccer World Cup! Closer to home, we know when we play rugby against the All Blacks, they definitely have a winning mindset. This is a lovely demonstration of today’s quality – PASSION.

Experts spend a lot of time trying to figure out what makes people successful, and more than anything passion makes the difference – no one can be successful unless they love their work. Passion is what lifts seemingly ordinary people to extraordinary levels.

Here are four truths about passion and what it can do for you as a leader:

  1. Passion is the first step to achievement – Your desire determines your destiny. Think of great leaders, and you will be struck by their passion. Gandhi for human rights, Winston Churchill for freedom, Martin Luther King Jr for equality, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for technology. Anyone who lives beyond an ordinary life has great desire. The stronger your fire, the greater the desire – and the great the potential.
  2. Passion increases your willpower – There is no substitute for passion. It is fuel for the will. If you want anything badly enough, you can find the willpower to achieve it. The only way to have that kind of desire is to develop your passion.
  3. Passion changes you – If you follow your passion – instead of other’s perceptions – you can’t help becoming a more dedicated, productive person. That, in turn, increases your ability to impact others. In the end, your passion will have more influence than your personality.
  4. Passion makes the impossible possible – Human beings are designed that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life – think about being in love. That’s why passionate leaders are so effective. A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.


Despite the power of passion, many people are suspicious about it. Sociologist Tony Campolo has observed, “We are caught up in a particular stage in our ethos where we’re not only materialistic but worse than that; we’re becoming emotionally dead as people. We don’t sing, we don’t dance, we don’t even commit sin with much enthusiasm.”  Now you don’t have to agree with that, however, take a look for yourself.  Is passion a characteristic of your life? Do you wake up feeling enthusiastic about your day? Is the first day of the week your favourite, or do you live from weekend to weekend, sleepwalking through your everyday routine? How long has it been since you couldn’t sleep because you were so excited by an idea?

If passion is not a quality in your life, you’re in trouble as a leader. Why? The truth is that you can never lead something you don’t care passionately about. You can’t start a fire in your organisation unless one is first burning in you.

To increase your passion, do the following:

  • Take your temperature – How passionate are you about your life and your work? Does it show? Get an honest assessment by asking co-workers and your spouse about your level of desire. You won’t become passionate until you believe passion can be the difference maker in your life.
  • Return to your first love – Many people allow life and it’s circumstances to get them off track. Think back to when you were a child, or starting out in your career. What really turned you on? What could you spend hours and hours doing? How could you recapture your old enthusiasm? Evaluate your current life in light of those old loves.
  • Associate with people of passion – Birds of a feather, flock together. If you’ve lost your fire, get around some fire-lighters. Passion is contagious. Schedule some time with people who can infect you with it.

Let’s close out today’s quality with quotes from some passionate women.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.
Maya Angelou
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
Oprah Winfrey
Part 12 of our Leadership Series: Leadership is an Inside Job, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader


Share this post