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I See Your Passion

Yesterday morning I visited a summer day camp for children in Traverse City, Michigan. As the children arrived, they were greeted by a welcomomg tunnel of jumping, singing, high-fiving camp counselors.  The kids’ faces lit up with excitement as these counselors enthusiastically celebrated their arrival. This was Day 4 of camp – and these kids were delighted to be there.

One of the signature traits of this camp is the group of passionate, high energy leaders that run the camp.  The camp is anything but boring.  The counselors create an atmosphere that engages the kids in all kinds of activities.  Their stated mission – to make this the best week of the kids’ summer.

Based on my one day observation, their mission is working well. What is their secret?

Passion is an essential ingredient in leadership.

At Popeyes, we chose passion as the first principle of our leadership.  We say, “We are passionate about what we do.”  Here are five observations of how the passion of the leader influences the team’s response and action:

  1. Passion evidences your conviction for the work at hand. If the leader is not enthusiastic about the work in front of the team today, why would the team see it as important work? If the leader has no passion, the team will take on the attitude of “what’s the point?” and “why should I give you my best?” Can your team feel your conviction?
  2. Passion creates the energy level for the team. The team literally “beams” off the energy level of the leader.  Your tempo is their tempo.  If the leader wants to see a high energy team, they must set expectations by modeling that pace. If the team lacks energy, check your energy.
  3. Passion is the “staying power” of leadership. All work has its difficult times. Things don’t go as planned.  Results fall short of goals.  Disappointments happen. Is your passion keeping the team focused on the outcome, despite the difficulties?
  4. Passion drives breakthrough thinking. Our teams need to innovate – our teams need to creatively solve problems.  Their level of passion about the work determines how much creative effort and innovative thinking they are willing to contribute. If the “spark” of creativity is missing on your team, do they see the sparks in you?
  5. Passion keeps the team purposeful. Last week I wrote about the importance of knowing why you work.  If you know why you work, you will exhibit passion for the work.  And the reverse is also true.  The more passion you exhibit for the work, the more important the work feels and the more likely the purpose will be accomplished.

Research supports the positive impact of the leader’s mindset on the team.  In the book, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, the author puts forth seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. He writes that there is a ripple effect if the leader is a positive force:

“When we are positive our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive at work. Recent research has proven that much of our behavior is literally contagious; our habits, attitudes, and actions. . . infect those around us.”

Let’s start a ripple effect with infectious passion – and watch the people and the performance results respond.

Discover more about the principles we’ve adopted at Popeyes and how principles can become a competitive advantage in our discussion guide video.


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