Passionate Leadership

I read an article today by Erika Andersen on Forbes.com entitled, “Passionate Leaders Aren’t Loud – They’re Deep.” Andersen discusses great leadership as not loud speechmaking, but something deeper, in six qualities. Passionate leaders are:

  • Honest and genuine
  • Clear and powerful, yet respectful
  • Open to others’ points of view
  • Walking their talk
  • Committed despite adversity and setbacks

The the most important principle Andersen brings up is purpose. “What a leader is passionate,” she says, “people feel a deep sense of being led in a worthy direction by someone who is committed to something more important than his or her own individual glory.”

Purpose

“Successful companies keep this idea front and center: People seek purpose.” – Rich Karlgaard, Forbes.com, “Purpose-Driven Leadership

In the same Forbes article, Karlgaard lists two examples of why purpose is so important:

“Abraham Maslow had it right. Once our physical needs are met, we long for love, belonging, esteem and finally what Maslow called ‘self-actualization’–that our lives count.”

I seek for purpose in my work. I don’t want just to “get tasks done.” I want to make a difference, meaning a great positive impact, in the world.

Visualizing Success

These fun images represent the balance of mentoring and being mentored – it takes effort on both are parts – and a big push of guidance from one to launch the other! These slides are created by my mentor from stick figures I drew a while ago. It shows the process of defining a vision for myself. As I modify and add to what this vision is, I am launched upward by the guidance of my mentor. Click on any of these images to view the full-size slides.

Me and my mentor on a seesaw

I define goals, my mentor helps

Having goals and a mentor launches me upward :)

Anxiety and Passion

You have credibility; don’t lose it.

My mentor and I talked about my presentation skills again (I was on a panel discussion recently and asked him to watch the video and give me feedback). I repeated myself too many times. So the goal is to be succinct and concise. The audience will only give me a small amount of time, space, and attention. I repeat myself for two reasons:

  • Anxiety: There are two types of anxiety: situational (it’s scary to be a on a panel – who knows what they’ll ask you and if you’ll be prepared?) and internal (am I good enough, smart enough, fast enough, eloquent enough to be on this or any panel?).
  • Passion: I am excited about the subject matter and reiterate points I find to be important. My mentor said, “people repeat themselves because they want to drive the point home.”

The anxiety can be overcome with the result of a calm and deliberate presentation. I will have to prepare more, relax more, think more, give myself time, and eat lunch regularly. My mentor said,

“We’re not going for 100% stress free. If we did, we would die. You need stress to stay on your toes. You want managed stress.

According to my mentor, the passion I have for my field of expertise is a benefit. I have such a high degree of energy and passion that it’s contagious. Don’t stop it. He said,

“Harness the passion so it becomes more powerful.”

This applies to presentations because in addition to not repeating myself, I will want to stop where the passion is greatest. Once I’ve given a great presentation, I should stop there and “put a period at the end of the sentence.” I shouldn’t go on, eventually losing the once-piqued interest of my audience. The expert has credibility, but he or she can lose credibility if anxiety and unharnessed passion get in the way.