Making room for passion in business

A decade ago I was describing the celebration of safety achievements at an African mine to a Board member.  His response surprised me.  He was an MD with one of Australia’s leading companies and was a Director I respected greatly, but his view was that ‘there’s no room for passion in business.’      

I didn’t take the discussion up with him – I was an MD on trainer wheels at the time – but I was and remain of the exact opposite view.  I think business needs more passion. 

Jim Collins made passion a central construct of his hedgehog concept.  One of his three key questions was: what are you deeply passionate about?  John Hagel has suggested that the last three decades of declining return on assets across business at large reflects in part a failure of institutional leadership.  And in his view one of the missing ingredients is ‘passion’. 

Passion doesn’t mean a wild, uncontrolled display of emotion, but it does reflect a deeply held belief in the value of what one is doing. 

Passion is one of the central constructs of my C-O-P model.  The model posits that the sweet spot for both organisations and individuals is the intersection of Capability – Opportunity – Passion.    

COP development model March 2014.jpg

If one of these is missing, you have a problem, at either the individual or organisational level.  If it is a capability gap, how can you overcome this, either organisationally or at an individual level?  If it is an opportunity gap, how do you reposition the individual or the business to create the opportunity? 

But if it is a lack of passion then perhaps it’s time for some soul searching?  I left my earlier CEO role when my passion had waned. 

Do you still have the passion for your business and your role?  And is that shared among and reflected within your leadership team?  If not, do you have a plan to address the issue?