leaders use passion to inspire employees

“A passionate interest in what you do is the secret of enjoying life, perhaps the secret of long life, whether it is helping old people or children, or making cheese, or growing earthworms. — Julia Child, American cooking expert, author, and television personality

The French call it joie de vivre, which means joy or love of life. We wrestled long and hard with putting into words the core values that brought us together and define the kind of organization The CLEMMER Group aspires to be. The first cornerstone of our four core values is Passion. Our definition describes our own aspirations and a key quality we find in highly effective leaders:

The CLEMMER Group is brimming with joy of life. We are passionate and we have fun. We have a contagious, positive outlook. We give and get deep meaning from our work. We experience life with an ever-increasing depth. We nurture the hearts and souls of each other and those we serve.

We celebrate our successes along the way. We cultivate the seemingly unnatural — but vital — skill and habit of appreciating and being thankful for what we have and what we’ve accomplished. We don’t just focus on the mountain of unattained goals yet to be climbed, we periodically stop to enjoy the view from the vantage points we’ve reached.

We believe that organizations, systems, processes, and technology serve people, not the other way around. We love and celebrate the richness of life and infinite human potential in the services we provide and the way we live.

The author and poet, Samuel Ullman, wrote, “Age may wrinkle the face, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul” (now there’s a scary thought — just imagine the leathery, shriveled souls of apathetic people). Enthusiasm is a word that comes from ancient Greek meant “having the god within.” Enthusiasm, passion, and love are key drivers in our lives. When we connect with our inner spirit, we feel the most intensely alive. During these moments, our inner voice whispers, “this is the real me.”

A teacher was discussing a picture of a family with her first graders. One little boy in the picture had different color hair and skin than the other family members. One student suggested that he was adopted. A little girl, Jenny, chimed in, “I know all about adoptions because I was adopted.” “What does it mean to be adopted?” asked another first grader. “It means,” answered Jenny, “that you grew in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.”

Passion and love are affairs of the heart, not head. We aren’t rational creatures. Take parenting for example. Some days the decision to become parents seems so irrational as to be insane. On those “doubt days,” it’s easy to understand why some animals eat their young. Credit card bills or election results point to a few more cases of less than rational decisions. Humans use thinking and reason to solve problems and make plans. But it’s our hearts more than our heads that move us. Most so-called “rational thinking” is merely justifying actions that start with our feelings. We often make decisions that “feel right,” then start looking for the “facts” to support them.

In many organizations, what’s often called leadership is really management. Activities such as planning, analysis, problem solving, strategy, process improvement, goal setting, measurement, and such are critical. And they call for good intellectual thinking. But for all their importance, they don’t add up to leadership.

Leadership is emotional. Leadership deals with feelings. Leadership is made up of dreams, inspiration, excitement, desire, pride, care, passion, and love. The areas of our lives where we show the strongest leadership — including our communities, families, organizations, products, services, hobbies, and customers — are where we’re most in love.