It can be like an overpowering cologne or perfume. When someone enters the room, the scent overtakes everything, and we can barely breathe.

The same happens when someone’s individual passion overtakes a conversation or decision. What seems to be the unfortunate goal is for one person’s passion to be imposed on others. It is passion domination!

The discussion on passion in organizations gets very interesting as we dig into it. There are issues to be highlighted and resolved.

One key question is:

Can passion be transferred?

The question centers on two dimensions:

  • Personal passion
  • Organization passion

Personal Passion

As leaders and team members, we have principles and approaches we are passionate about. Our personal passion can be on how we leverage and use teams to solve problems or how we want certain decisions to be made.

Personal passion is not about policies and procedures, however. It is a belief system and a mindset we embrace.

The hope should be that there is some overlap in passion between two individuals in an organization. This is where “synergy” happens. The middle passion multiplies in impact, and it is seen in our interactions with customers and with each other.

Individual Passion Synergy

When our individual passion saps a colleague’s passion, it goes too far. When our individual passion drains team members from involvement and advice, we dampen enthusiasm. It may be a sensitive balance, and the test may be simple. Which is greater – your passion or the organization’s?

In organizations, the “entity’s” passion and principles should drive us more. After all, this is the context in which we are working. There needs to be some priority to what is best for the company and its customers, rather than just being personally overbearing.

Organizational Passion

Let’s turn to organizational passion then. In several newer companies, a certain passion is built-in from the beginning. For example, companies with the one-for-one approach set a culture of passion around giving to those in need. TOMS does this with shoes and eyewear, and Warby Parker does it with glasses.

Connected Passion - Organization & IndividualIndividuals joining these types of organizations know from the beginning what the passion is. There is an expectation, and there is appeal to the business model.

Beyond this, it can be challenging to discover an organization’s passion. When finally discovered, it may be the first clue to run as fast as we can to somewhere else! It is like looking under the hotel bed. Do we really want to know what is underneath? The truth is “yes.”

When you think about great companies, you know their passion. Think about Apple, Dell, Disney, Cleveland Clinic… and you think about words that describe their passion. If you join one of these organizations, you know what the organization is about. What you don’t know is the passion of the individuals you will be working with.

The Passion Challenge

Herein is the real challenge. When a disconnect happens, a rift widens, and people become disenchanted. Even worse, they leave, become less productive, and walls build between teams and individuals.

The two disconnects are:

  1. The organization’s passion matches an individual’s, but there is a gap between individuals.
  2. Individual passions match, but there is a disparity between the individual and the organization.

The original question was: Can passion be transferred? When there is disconnect, the answer is “no.” This divide creates a barrier.

The passion responsibility falls into three areas:

  1. As an individual, we need to do the research on an organization and make a passion assessment before joining.
  2. As an organization, we need to define our passion strategy and principles. It is the answer to the following question: What will our organization stand for?
  3. As leaders, we need to understand our passion as well as the passion of others. We need to realize what can be leveraged and used. Our objective is to prevent any overbearing tendencies, as mutual passion will create more results than standalone.

Connected passion between individuals and an organization creates positive, robust momentum. It is a step above passion synergy. Passion is about tapping into the human potential to empower the potential of an organization in a marketplace of possibilities!

What practices do you cultivate to ensure passion alignment between individuals and within an organization?

Jon Mertz
Jon is a vice president of marketing in the healthcare software industry. His background consists of an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin and working for companies like Deloitte, IBM, and BMC Software. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders. Connect with Jon on Twitter @ThinDifference or on Facebook.
Jon Mertz

@ThinDifference

With a thin difference between two generations, a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story. Close the gap & enable Millennial leaders to excel.
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