Passion Comes in Two Flavors
People can display passion from the inside or from the outside.
Outwardly, they demonstrate their deep commitment to people, issues, and ideas through energy or dynamic action. Inwardly, they demonstrate passion through composure and firm resolve.
Whenever we see passion, no matter the form, it moves us. The word passion comes from the latin root which means “to suffer.” People make sacrifices for what they believe in. Maybe that’s why passion is viewed as such an important quality in leadership.
We trust, follow, and yield to leaders who display passion. Because we know passion springs from a deep commitment, we become energized whenever we see it. When displayed by a leader, passion creates the momentum that propels others forward — unless that passion is over the top.
As with any personal quality, when taken to an extreme, it can become a liability. Passion comes in two flavors: Positive and Negative. Positive passion signals how strongly we feel about something. It draws others in. Negative passion, however, shows we are emotionally overinvested and can’t restrain ourselves. This repels people and pushes them to withdraw.
Leaders who can’t govern their emotions like to justify bursts of anger and loud behavior by claiming they are just being passionate. This is akin to eating too much food and blaming it on being hungry.
When leaders allow their devotion and commitment to operate without constraint, passion becomes hugely negative. Left unchecked, the intensity of negative passion produces bad behavior and blinds leaders from seeing matters objectively.
Deep caring and commitment naturally produce passion in leaders. Whether this passion is experienced positively or negatively by others comes down to how leaders bottle it. Taken too far, passion overwhelms people with deafening intensity. When used to infectiously energize people, passion may be the greatest asset in leadership.