I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that ignites passion and high performance in companies where I coach. I believe that passion and purpose are closely linked. What comes to mind is the message of Simon Sinek:

 If you haven’t clearly articulated the “why” of your business, people will struggle to be engaged in the “what” their job requires.

In his brilliant 2009 TED Talk and book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek emphasizes there has to be a reason—a purpose—for today’s workers to commit and give their best efforts to an organization:

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. If you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Employees who don’t know how their job contributes to the organization’s purpose—and who cannot clearly articulate this purpose—are unable to give their wholehearted participation.

Igniting passion starts with defining your personal and company purpose: your beliefs, values, passions, principles and connection to the company’s mission.

Purpose isn’t what a group does, but why it performs. Defining your purpose is just the first step. Leaders must activate people’s emotions and desires.

Purpose and Passion

If having a purpose encourages people to do the right things, then passion motivates them to give extraordinary performance.

“To put it bluntly, the most important task for any manager today is to create a work environment that inspires exceptional contribution and that merits an outpouring of passion, imagination and initiative.” ~ Gary Hamel, What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation (Jossey-Bass, 2012)

Smart leaders infuse passion into their workplaces by hiring for it right from the start. What I find, however, is that few leaders or manager know how to hire for passion. It’s just not something that’s clearly defined or articulated in the workplace, nor in Human Resources processes.

What’s been your experience? Do you have a purpose to your work? One that aligns with the company you work for?

What do you think? As always, I’d love to hear what you think. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.