12 Most Electrifying Ways Leaders Can Unleash Employee Passion

What does it mean to unleash employee passion? To start, it doesn’t mean letting employees run amuck and do whatever they want. It does mean, however, spending time learning about what your employees’ aspirations are. It means spending time deepening the relationship with employees. It means paying attention to the work environment and doing what you can to remove blocks to passion.

To unleash employee passion, be diligent reducing activities that interfere with getting to work that matters. This isn’t to say mundane work tasks are eliminated. Here’s a rule of thumb to help guide your leadership acts: lead so that your team can contribute their best work while working with you. This list covers ways to help make that happen.

1. Know what’s on their plates

Understand the work load employees carry. This isn’t to micromanage them. You want to look for who/what’s robbing employees’ time. Then discuss your concerns and coach employees to overcome the time robbers. Passion withers away when stress over-dominates.

2. Create good news

The amount of crappy news today acts like a giant vacuum sucking up passion. Passion can be unleashed despite such abysmal news. You can let loose passion in others by sharing good news from the journey to reach noble outcomes linked to the team’s bigger purpose or the company’s goals.

3. Refresh or create a team purpose statement

Teams lose sight of their purpose. Too often it’s assumed yet not discussed. Unleash passion by co-creating a team purpose statement. Spend time identifying ways to know that the purpose is alive. Agree on roles the team plays to pursue their purpose. Make sure related traditions are shared with new team members. Keep it organic.

4. Exposure to collaborators

Silos are byproducts of organizational design and poor management decisions. Silos are passion suckers. Bust silos by connecting employees’ ideas to decision makers across the company. Plug employees into projects that let them use their talents or sharpen their saw. Remember that inclusion is a powerful invitation that encourages us to show others what we’re made of.

5. Development assignments

Two of my go-to leadership experts, Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger of Lominger International, advocate a better approach to develop talent: 70% development assignment and 30% learning solutions. Most companies and leaders reverse the percentages. When people are learning from development assignments and seeing the results, passion for work will go up.

6. Create optimism

Creating optimism in the workplace are a leader’s actions to create an environment that lets passion surface. It’s also actions that make way for employees to use their talents to do good work. It’s doing what’s in this list. It’s redefining the relationship as collaborative. It’s dismantling the rigid hierarchical beliefs that treat employees as cogs in a wheel.

7. Leverage strengths

Do you know what you’re good at? What about your employees? Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton raised awareness of this leadership belief. When we can apply what we’re good at to our work, imagine the enjoyment factor? Passion. Yes, it goes up. The strengths view is made stronger when we ditch the limitations of title or role. Instead we look at what people are good at and plug them into work where they can excel.

8. Ditch work-life-balance

Work life balance is a fruitless pursuit. Balance implies some equilibrium between the two worlds. Instead adopt an Integrated Life Philosophy. Integrated Life Philosophy challenges leaders to honor the role employees hold and to understand that when each role is tended to, the quality of work and dedication is likely to increase. It’s an acknowledgement that we are all masters of our destiny and taps into the freedom inherit in the belief.

9. Meaningful work

Employees want work that matters. Pile on mundane work that doesn’t develop their talents, you’ll get bored employees who stay and shut down, leave, or bug you until you do something. None of these are acceptable if you’re interested in being effective as a leader.

10. Cut the BS

Employees can smell BS a mile away. Be honest about company news. If you can’t share what’s going on, tell them so. Show them that you will keep them informed. If you have hard feedback to give, don’t water it down by “playing safe.” Passion thrives in the trust and honesty of relationships.

11. 15 minute & 30 minute meetings

Create more time for employees to do work that matters. Master the art of meeting brevity. 15 minute update/download meetings are great. Set a standard for 30 minute meetings. Start, end on time. Don’t reward late comers. Let passion surface in doing the work, not talking about it.

12. Expand where work can be done

With the wide availability of mobile devices and cloud solutions, work can be done anywhere. Let employees work in environments that best suit their working styles. Trust is key for those who struggle with this strong trend that dominates the top places to work.

Passion in the workplace is not the goal leaders need to pursue. Rather, deepening the relationship with employees and acting as curators of an engaging workplace environment are the aims of leaders in the 21st century.

For the past month, I’ve featured some of my favorite posts I’ve written for 12 Most. You have been amazing in your response and support for the reposts. Thank you. It will be awhile before I share more of my favorites from the great site of lists. But please do visit their site. Great ideas. Great writers. Great people.

Photo by Peter Cakovsky

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • http://www.endgamebusiness.com/blog Steve Borek

    Leaders credibility is tested every day.

    Make sure, as leader, your words and actions match the value of the organization. Employees are watching your every move.

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    Great list Shawn and thanks for sharing all the other ones from 12 most. You have written some gems.

    Of course, i would add CARE to the list above. We can make it #13. better yet, how about #1 ? Ha.

    Thanks brother. How is school going ? Hope you are getting closer to your Masters. Take CARE.


  • lucy


  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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