Have you ever stopped to consider what your passion or purpose is? You soul callin? How is passion and purpose important in your company? In today’s top-performing companies you’re likely to find a good level of employee engagement. In these companies from frontline workers to CEOs, people are passionate about their companies’ purpose, values and mission. Many workers are motivated to give their best and often go beyond what’s required. Some are lucky enough to work for companies that are consistently designated a “best place to work.”

But for countless other organisations, only 20% of employees say they’re excited about work. They show up to for the wages or salary. At most, they aim to achieve personal success and climb the promotion ladder or they leave taking their talent elsewhere and costing their previous employer numerous headaches and costs.

In the first workplace, people are passionate and understand the purpose of the organisation. In the latter, they’re looking out for themselves, with management struggling to achieve company performance targets. We can attribute the difference to organisational factors like hierarchy, processes, incentives and, often, personalities. But the real culprit may be their leaders’ failure to ignite passion in their people.

I’ve seen this in many of the businesses where I have worked, consulted and coached. Leaders don’t see emotional factors as relevant to performance, except for when things go wrong! Yet whilst coaching, I frequently hear individuals talk about their loss of passion for what the organisation they work for is currently doing or the direction it is moving in. These individuals are investing in themselves in order to find their purpose. They think it is important!

Passion and purpose principles at work.

For years, we’ve been learning how workplace performance depends on emotional factors like engagement, culture, values and a sense of purpose. But many leaders and managers ignore the need to foster employee connection to the corporate mission and often without this context employees fail to buy into the purpose of the company.

While most leaders are highly experienced in financial planning, capital budgeting, and organisational structure and strategies, most receive no formal training in building, leveraging or measuring employee passion.

In my past, I have run engagement surveys and spent time trying to help managers and leaders understand that it is only a snapshot of what is happening and that opportunities to increase engagement happen every day. Don’t get me wrong Engagement surveys are a reasonable way to gauge passion levels, but they cannot capture what it looks like or how to increase it. In truth, you will know whether your employees are engaged without conducting a survey! Just pay attention.

We frequently see successful startups filled with hordes of passionate people, yet we view them as anomalies—unique because of their youthful culture or trendy products. We seldom imagine older, more traditional companies as hotbeds of passion and energy. Why is this?

Stagnant leadership thinking plagues executives who fail to identify a purpose beyond making profits and don’t help the workforce understand the purpose value and passion.

“If you look through the right lens, every organization has the potential for world-changing impact. The role of a leader is to foster passion around that impact and to keep that passion alive by reinforcing it every day.”  Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat.

When leaders recognise a higher purpose and their companies’ potential to make a difference in the world, they ignite passion in their people and achieve stellar performance. When they ignore purpose, values and passion, they are missing out on one of the most powerful motivators for performance.

What do you think?

Suzanne