Passion vs. Emotion in Leadership

I’ve seen passion get a bad rap too often by being mislabeled as “emotion”. You’ve probably experienced it too. It may be in a budget meeting when funding is being debated and someone passionately voices their opinion. Or, it may be during cross-functional staffing assessments when one leader vehemently disagrees with another’s reflection on a person.

Passion

Whenever it occurs, passion reflects an individual’s commitment, strong opinions and dedication to their position. In other words, passion may be described as a person’s unwillingness to maintain their composure. With a particularly strong belief in the matter at hand, passion is often the byproduct of someone deeply engaged in serving their organization. Therefore, I believe passion is a great characteristic to have in your team members.

Emotion

In contrast, emotion often stems from a person’s inability to maintain their composure. This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending upon the circumstances. For example, someone receiving negative feedback in a performance review may reveal their disappointment in tears. In addition, frustration from an inability to effectively influence others often results in anger – too often in public settings. While unfortunate, the former emotional scenario is somewhat understandable and, particularly given the confidential nature, generally acceptable. In contrast, losing one’s temper as a result of their own ineffectiveness is not acceptable. Either way, because emotion is generally perceived as a reflections of one’s inability to control their reactions to given situations, emotion is generally considered negative characteristic.

Call me crazy (or passionate), but I want people on my team that believe deeply in those they serve and therefore may reflect their passion through strong words and actions. Yes, I want people on my team who have the ability to maintain their composure.  However, if someone is passionate enough about their commitment to serving a person or group and therefore not willing to maintain their composure all the time, I’m okay with that. Provided, of course, they know when those right times are.

Question: Have you seen passion confused for emotion? Do you like having passionate people on your team?

  • http://twitter.com/tombolt @tombolt

    Passion is the glue that combines skills with experience to create positive work performance.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Ben Lichtenwalner

    Thanks for contributing Tom. That is a great comment – mind if I quote you on it?

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