We are born as passionate beings and somewhere down the line some of us started seeing the diminishing or absence of that passion. This piece of writing will attempt to identify the reasons for the diminishing of passion, the role we play in killing passion and what role can we play to ignite that passion. I have found that using the energy within the hearts and minds of our teams by igniting their passion as one of the most productive and cost effective ways of driving performance.
Reflecting on our childhood where we had all the energy to live life will confirm this. Observe a baby showing the need for affection with her passionate cry for attention. Observe children passionate about playing the games they love to play. Observe children passionately asking for the toy of their choice from their parents. We also carry this passion to our adulthood in areas that are important to us. Observe a young man passionately pursuing to foster a relationship with the woman of his dreams. Observe a musician singing his heart out entertaining his fans. Observe and entrepreneur passionately promoting his business.
What would be the reason for that passion to diminish as we go in to adulthood and what would be the reason for some adults to passionately pursue selected goals during various timeframes of their lives? One of the reasons why our passion gets extinguished could be because of passion killers. Have you ever had a situation where you were passionate about a business improvement idea and expressed it to your leader who extinguished your passion saying what stupid idea it was? Have you ever had a situation where a project you were passionate about got delayed due to multiple justifications, regulations and approvals that you had to navigate? Have you ever had a situation where you received an unfair rating during a performance appraisal that extinguished your passion? Would you have taken similar action that extinguished the passion of your team? Did you realize then that it had a negative impact on the performance of your team?
The good news is that there are methods to ignite the passion and I believe you may be already using some of these methods and some of you might want to examine the relevance of using some of these methods. While these methods, which are not exhaustive by any means, may have helped you in the past, may help you now or may help you in the future to ignite the passion and drive performance, feel free to use these to reinforce your positive leadership behaviours, test them out with your teams or re-design them to suit your situation.
- By giving an A to the team at the beginning of a performance cycle of project by communicating with confidence about the potential for success.
- Getting the team involved in planning and decision-making and keeping them abreast of the performance of the organisation.
- Allocating the right person for the right role based on unique-abilities (quick start, fact finder, implementer, follow through), action logics (opportunist, diplomat, expert, achiever), generation fit (Gen, Z, Y, X, Joneses, baby boomers), left/right (logical or creative work preference) brain fit, head/heart fit (technical or adaptive/emotional orientation), technical skills and adaptive skills.
- Setting performance objectives in an engaging manner.
- Real time positive and improvement feedback.
- Regular performance coaching.
- Relevant mentoring and training.
- Fair and growth fostering performance reviews.
- Check –in at beginning of interactions by doing a Positive focus (sharing positives during the intervening period from the last interaction) and doing a check out (sharing what was felt about the interaction) at the end of interactions.
- Encouraging and insisting on good work/life balance.
Reflecting on the questions; what are the passion killers I create, what can I do to eliminate the passion killers, what can I do to ignite the passion of my team and taking actions that you feel driven to take will help improve the performance of your team. It also adds value to reflectively write down the action taken, what you were feeling/thinking when you took action, evaluate the results of the action internally and externally and plan to improve the action the next time around. This cycle has a powerful impact on your leadership effectiveness and performance.
Growth requires positive energy and I believe these actions – suitably adjusted by you to suit your specific situation – create positive energy in you and your team. The happiness you gain by helping yourself, your team, your family, your organisation, your country and your planet to become better, is worth giving these ideas a go!