Recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, worldwide political figures, business leaders and executives still had high expectations that the new American leadership could change the world in 2009. Wow! Nothing like carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. But we must ask why – and how – in just about two years’ time, a junior senator from Illinois can go from working in local and state politics to engaging world leaders to believe in the hopes, dreams, and vitality that can once again exist in not just the United States, but the world. It’s all about enthusiasm and passion.
Whether or not you support the new administration, one thing is clear: President Obama invokes enthusiasm and passion in everything he does, from tackling the troubling economy and recession and foreign affairs to selecting the appropriate school for his daughters and even finding the best dog to become a part of the White House family. Despite some tough decisions, the President’s approval rating is still extremely high. Many of those on the right have even said that although they don’t necessarily support President Obama’s policies, they hope he succeeds. The bottom line is that any great leader – whether it’s the leader of a local community, a small business, a Fortune 500 company, or the leader of the United States – he or she must be passionate about the hopes for the future. The glass must always be half full.
When was the last time you woke up at 4 in the morning because you couldn’t wait to get to work? If we compare this level of excitement to back in our younger school days, you may recall that it was easy to get up early on a Saturday when you knew you were going to the zoo, on a family vacation, or playing with friends all day. But when Monday morning came along, you groaned, hit the snooze button, and pulled the covers over your head to hide from the world a few minutes more. If you’re a leader, every day should feel like a Saturday, and your customers, vendors, and employees must “feel” this from you.
Let’s take a look at how you can harness your enthusiasm and passion to become a great leader:
– Identify your passion. Hopefully it’s what you do every day, both personally and professionally. And while one might argue that you can’t feel passionate about everything all of the time, great leaders actually are. The difference is that great leaders choose what to become involved in and are passionate about their involvement. They don’t get involved in everything that comes across their desk, however. They consciously select the ideas, projects, and causes that are important to them and that will keep their dreams and goals moving forward positively.
– Lead with passion and others will follow. What makes you want to work even when you’re exhausted and feeling burnt out? Whatever it is, let it show to your customers, vendors and employees. Whatever you love to do must be at your core being – what else is going to get you out of bed on a Monday morning after working 60 hours the previous week? If your followers understand what is important to you and can see the dedication and efforts you put forth, they will want to follow you to wherever it is you are leading them.
– Find teammates with the same passion as you. Whether it’s a potential customer, a vendor, or an employee, having like-minded people on your team is only going to increase the enthusiasm level. If you all share the same core values, you will feed off each other to move the project or business idea forward. So build your team wisely. Talk with prospects about what you are passionate about and ask them what gets them out of bed every morning.
– Spend time with your people. There is nothing worse than a CEO that sits in meetings all day behind closed doors and who is invisible to his or her team, regardless of how those people fit into the big picture. As a leader, you must be accessible to everyone. Listen to what your customers have to say or what your employees think about the next product launch or service installation. If they know you truly care about what they think and that they are a part of the big picture, you will be able to create powerful change.
– Articulate your passions and core beliefs often. The more you talk from the heart about what is at your core and how it relates to the task at hand, the more optimism and enthusiasm you’ll inject into your team. In a way, you become a self-marketer of your visions and ideas, but at the root of that should be truth and reality. When combined, you have the formula for becoming a great leader.
During a recession, it’s easy to see the gray skies. Searching for the silver lining can be difficult. But your followers will be looking to you to set the tone and be an example of the hope for what lies ahead. Having purpose and passion are critical to sustaining and even building business during tough economic times. By being engaged, passionate and excited about what you do, you will fuel the fire for those who choose to follow you to successful times.