Just read a very funny and true post on the HBR Blog by Joel Stein called Boringness: The Secret to Great Leadership. Joel talks about how his images of great leaders “were based mainly on movies and sports. I figured great leaders did a lot of alpha-male yelling and inspirational speechmaking.”
In doing research for a book, though, he discovered that most really effective leaders aren’t the loud, pizz-azzy kind. He found, instead, depth of commitment and a quiet attention to the details that allow that commitment to bear fruit.
I agree. In Leading So People Will Follow, I talk about the six qualities that people most want to see in their leaders – the qualities that cause people to fully accept another’s leadership. One of the six is Passion. But we’ve discovered, like Joel, that passion isn’t a wild, loud, take-no-prisoners quality. True passion requires honestly committing to something about which you feel deeply, and staying committed through difficult circumstances. Here are the five indicators that a leader has true passion:
- Commit honestly – Passionate leaders genuinely believe in what they espouse. People are touched and engaged by the genuineness of their passion.
- Make a clear case without being dogmatic – They convey the power of their belief without dismissing or belittling others’ points of view.
- Invite real dialogue about their passion – Their passion is balanced with openness: they want to hear and integrate others’ points of view.
- Act in support of their passion – They walk their talk: their day-to-day behaviors support their beliefs.
- Stay committed despite adversity and setbacks – Their commitment isn’t flimsy; when difficulties arise, they hold to their principles and find a way forward.
When a leader is passionate, people feel a deep sense of being led in a worthy direction by someone who is committed to something more important than his or her own individual glory. Joel gives a great example, talking about his experiences observing Captain Buzz Smith, a fire captain in Hollywood:
Everyone at his firehouse knows they are doing things exactly right. And that seems to make them both proud and assured. They would do anything for Capt. Smith. Not because they love him — I’m not entirely sure that outside of the firehouse he could inspire them even to switch TV channels — but because his deep belief in his mission makes them also believe in that mission.
What Capt. Smith understands is that inspiring people through your personality is a risky, exhausting endeavor. But if you make people feel like you’re going to help them accomplish something far bigger than you — not only saving lives, but living by a system that provides dignity and pride — you can let your belief do the work for you.
Real passion provides inspiration that’s much deeper than cheerleading or a temporary emotional high. When leaders are truly passionate, people feel included in the leader’s commitment, part of making important things happen. That’s satisfying on a very deep level, and it lasts.
Original source Forbes