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Is Passion In Leadership Necessary?

By David Penglase

The idea of 'passion' in Australian business can be looked on as a bit of that soft stuff that HR type people and motivational speakers talk about, but isn't really at top of mind for most executive leaders.

Why? Because there is a tendency to relate passionate people with emotionally 'out there' type people... and that's really sad (no pun intended), because my observation is, and a vast amount of evidence-based research supports that leaders who lack passion, are more likely to be just performing the role of administrative managers rather than aspirational leaders.

Without a doubt, skills, knowledge and experience account for a great percentage of the key elements for successful aspirational leadership. However, it becomes very clear in a very short time of meeting with someone if they have something else... something that drives them to apply those skills, knowledge, and experience to achieve something worthwhile.

But wait... couldn't that 'something' that drives a leader simply be ego, money or ambition. The answer is of course. However, aspirational leaders are different from leaders who are driven by ego, money, or ambition.

What is an Aspirational Leader?

An aspirational leader realises that their personal success and the success of the people for whom they are responsible, is determined by the reciprocal value that is created through the relationships they have earned, built and maintain.

An aspirational leader realises that relationships matter. While it might be easier to discount the importance of some relationships, and come to the conclusion that not all relationships will matter as much, (depending on the context with which we might consider them), an aspirational leader is very clear that even with those relationships that may not directly seem to matter all that much, that somehow, either directly or indirectly, all relationships matter.

An aspirational leader is one who models the character and behaviour they expect of others, and in so doing, results in others aspiring to emulate that character and behaviour. This is the substance of aspirational leadership.

An aspirational leader realises that all positive, efficient, effective and meaningful relationships may not always be easy to earn, build and maintain, but that at the very centre of all positive relationships, is reciprocal trust.

And an aspirational leader is driven by an intrinsic belief that what they are doing, why they are doing it and how they're going about doing it (whatever 'it' is), will create meaningful and reciprocal value for all stakeholders involved.

If you read that last (rather long) sentence again, you'll get a sense of what I know 'passion' in leadership is all about. The world needs more aspirational leaders, who unashamedly declare and display their passion for wanting to make life better for their people and all stakeholders they impact through their privileged role of a leader.

For more insights into passion and leadership I highly recommend you take a look at what some of my colleagues in the Switch & Shift League of Extraordinary Thinkers have to say.

Until next time, make good decisions



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