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Passion is essential, but what is it?

A posting  over at Church of the Customer by Ben McConnell - Wanted: Passion. Inquire within.- made me think about this whole passion thing in a new way.

Is passion becoming one of those words that is becoming so over used that we run the risk of losing clarity about what it means?

I'm finding that the whole emotional element of leadership is an emerging trend.  Call it passion, or emotional connection, it is something that is resonating with people. Is this just another gimmic, a ploy to get attention, or is there some paradigmatic change happening in the way we understand marketing, business and leadership?

What are we talking about exactly?  And more specifically, what does this mean for leadership?

Maybe the days of the Whyte's 1950's Organizational Man and the film The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit are really over.  No more locks-step follow the follower in front of you.  Now it is Free Agent Nation, with American individualism emerging as a competitive edge in new ways.

It seems that what is truly happening from a leadership perspective is the liberation of leadership from the rigidity of dying organizational structures for the freedom of individual freedom in pursuit of vision, passion and results.

It is easy to describe this in terms of emotions because that is really the first place people feel free.  That rush of emotion is a signal to the rest of the being that old constraints are gone.

The challenge is to focus this emotion.  The tendency is to treated liberation self-servingly, as my freedom.  Instead, this freedom is a liberation to pursue a passion for impact, results.  It is the acceptance of responsibility and accountability for outcomes.  It is a passion for change that the elevates the organization.  As this liberation permeates the whole of the organization, the internal relationships within the organization by necessity change.  Now, my relationship to others is now a matter of following some prescribed ritual of tasks, but rather a shared ritual of initiative to fulfill the potential that resides in the talent and experience of the people who work there.

Passion becomes a way of talking about the freedom to pursuing one's purpose in the context of the purpose of the organization.  And the organization's purpose is rediscovered in the context of  the  interaction between those within the organziation and those they serve on the outside.  In this sense, there is a community that forms around this purpose.

This is the challenge for leadership accustomed to the old ways.  Things are not so certain or predictable or controllable.  On the other hand,they are more fun and potential more vital for all parties.

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