Industry Research

What Traits Do You Need To Lead?

Posted on August 2, 2013 by Sara Eastwood-McLean - Also by this author


This is the year of igniting your spark, so I wanted to impart a few words on leading with passion….

People will not follow an unenthusiastic leader. They will follow someone who has a vision and is passionate about it. Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela showed great passion for what they believed — it was what made them outstanding leaders. The sales training expert Robin Fielder says, “Never, ever forget that people are more persuaded by your convictions than by your arguments.”

Jim Collins puts it like this: The good to great companies did not say, “Okay folks, let’s get passionate about what we do.” Sensibly, they went about it the other way around: We should only do those things that we can get passionate about. Kimberly-Clark executives decided to divest other businesses and focus on paper-based consumer products mostly because they could get more passionate about them.

Think for a moment about a key component of your vision for what you want to achieve with your business this year. Choose a single important goal that you as a leader want to accomplish. Now imagine that you expressed that goal to your people in a dull, boring, unenthusiastic way. What would happen?
Now consider how you could communicate the goal again, but this time with passion, with energy, with commitment, with enthusiasm. If you were receiving those two types of messages, how would you react? Which message would inspire you to change your behavior, to do something extraordinary, to go the extra mile?

Focus on the things you want to change and the most important challenges you face, and be passionate about overcoming them. Your energy and drive will translate into direction and inspiration for your people.

It is not enough to fill your bus with content, complacent passengers. You want evangelists, passionate supporters — people who believe that reaching the destination is really worthwhile; people who are on a mission to make the world a better place. This drive and enthusiasm starts with the leader. If you want to inspire people to innovate, to change the way they do things and to achieve extraordinary results, then you must be passionate about what you believe in and you have to communicate that passion every time you speak.

I recently talked with industry executive Bill Gemmell. He was originally a coach manager before leaving for Harrison Global to come full circle as part of the management team that bought out Boston Coach. He said something profound to me: “Sara my feet aren’t touching the floor. I am working crazy hours and I don’t even feel it. I cannot remove this huge smile I have on my face. I am totally fired up!”
My reaction to that? “I’m fired up too!” Passion and enthusiasm are contagious.

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