Essential Qualities of an Effective Leader Part 3: Passion

To start, I must acknowledge that I incorrectly stated in my June 2014 blog post that “Mission” was the first essential quality of an effective leader. Actually, I meant to say “Passion”, of which Mission is an integral part. As most of my friends know, I was recently in an accident in downtown Chicago. I fell while walking over the Columbus Drive Bridge (which remains in dire need of repair). I was hurt pretty bad, and had to spend about 6 hours in the emergency room of Northwestern Hospital. I now use my experience when I speak about Passion. Though I was in some pain (I had a left hand sprain, four stitches in my chin, a broken bone in my right hand and a broken bone in my ear canal), I could not help but be impressed with the passion that I observed in just about everyone who worked in that emergency room. I believe that the passion I observed in the health care staff was directly related to the passion exemplified by their leader, who was the doctor primarily in charge of my care.   What I observed in that doctor, and what I have observed from other leaders over many years, is that there are really four qualities of a leader with passion. If you display these to followers, they will believe what you believe, and your passion will, in fact, be infectious:

  1. Mission – Every organization needs a mission, however, the mission of a passionate leader is so much more than just organizational mission. Here you ask a personal question: Does the leader know, and display, that the leader knows what he or she is doing and why it is being done, or is the leader simply serving a term in an “in-charge” position?
  2. Model – A truly passionate leader is not only going to have beliefs, goals and a reason for being, but will also be an example for others to follow.
  3. Message – A true leader has a truth, a story and a purpose that can be shared with others, one they can cling to and follow. An effective leader is going to be able to influence followers through the story of his or her life, as well as those of others.
  4. Mandate – This is not the same as mission. We hear much in politics about whether or not a politician has been given a “mandate” from a constituency to proceed in some predetermined manner selected by the politician.   The mandate of an effective leader, however, is a calling to serve others, and to not be concerned about the leader’s own well-being and success, but instead that of followers.

Truly effective leaders always have passion. Leaders with passion have a personal mission, are a model to followers, have a message to share, and have a mandate to serve.