When was the last time you spoke to someone truly passionate about their job? There is an electricity about these individuals and I have to wonder if this lightning can be bottled. With one driven employee, so much is possible. With ten or twenty of these people, you can move mountains. Of course, the simplest way to stock your company with these A-players is with a shrewd hiring process. Your organization will be a hive of productivity if you simply do not allow listless people into the building. However, winnowing away the wheat from the chaff is not always straightforward and will almost certainly cost time that you may not have to spare. Given that we cannot all rely on time and luck, the question remains; can we teach passion?

“De gustibus non disputandum est” is a Latin phrase meaning, essentially, that we cannot debate matters of taste. I bring this up because it stands to reason that if someone truly hates their job, you cannot force them into feeling otherwise. Square pegs will never be round. That said, I doubt anyone in your business is devoid of some degree of passion for their role. We have to assume that if you had a truly unmotivated and passion-less employee, you would expeditiously counsel that person out both for their own good and for the good of your team. These individuals are extreme, teaching us that passion requires at least a spark. So how do we kindle these embers of into a fire?

To my mind, there are two effective ways to light a fire in your team members’ bellies: reinforcement and inspiration. The impact of the crowd on the results of any game show us that reinforcement works.   Even the best players in the world falter when they step up to the free-throw line and meet the sting of an angry roar. Nobody is numb to negativity.

The reverse of this is equally true; people push themselves beyond fatigue and limits if there is enough reinforcement. The success of your business depends on your singing the praises of those going above and beyond. This does not have to be a grand overture or a monetary reward, though each of those is a good idea. However, it’s also important to single them out in a meeting, drop a handwritten note on their desk, let them know that you see them, and let your office know that you are paying attention.

Inspiration is less tricky than it seems. You do not have to perform miracles; however, you do have to set the pace and tone. No organization is immune to difficult days, weeks, or quarters. That said, employees will always take cues from leadership. Let them know you appreciate their time and efforts on difficult days.  Show your excitement about new ventures, celebrate small wins, and wear your optimism for the future on your sleeve. If you think of your work as a chore, I promise that your team will follow suit.

Passion is a driving force pointing us towards the soul’s true north. Leaders cannot manufacture this; but we can fan the sparks that already exist within our team. I count myself lucky foreach individual in my organization.  Every day, I am surrounded by people who push themselves not only for our clients but for their colleagues down the hall.

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