becoming passion driven leader

On Becoming a Passion-Driven Leader

“Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe passion to be the single most important asset we have as individuals, SMB’s and corporate leaders. Passion differentiates us consistently over time, and it needs to be nurtured, evolved, and invigorated by the people entrusted to keep it true and alive. Two years ago I was given the distinguished honor of giving the keynote address in a conference full of Middle and High School Principals. What a pleasure it was to be in the presence of such passionate and dedicated leaders. There I debuted a framework for leadership and systems improvement I had been working on, and am still using to this day. Here’s a peek at the presentation and the talking points for what turned out to be a fantastic and passion-driven conversation.

Clear Direction 

The future may be made up of many uncertain factors but the passionate will not only survive ; they will thrive. Let’s make sure we paint a vivid picture of our future immersed in choice, leveraged with opportunity, and  fueled by passion.

Let’s make sure we paint a vivid picture of our future immersed in choice, leveraged with opportunity, and  fueled by passion.

Clarity Focus

Ambiguity is the enemy of change. The resistance we feel in moving people forward dissipates when we articulate the steps and behaviors need for the entire community to move towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals.


Everyone has the capacity to learn therefore everyone has the capacity to change.  It is important not to ensure the work ahead is “easy” but to make the hard work they will be doing easier by promising the conditions that build confidence and competence are present in every experience and interaction.


We live in an information abundant but trust-scarce world. People want to know they can trust the individuals who define and design their future. To garner that trust, leaders must “go first” so that we are able to grant those who follow us the things they desire most – empathy, familiarity, insight, and compassion. Do not tell them what the future holds – go there first!


In times of big, complex change; it seems logical that we need big complicated solutions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Less is more. The courageous leader is not the one who says yes to every new program, initiative, and invention. The courageous leader says no letting go of all that does not matter.

To garner that trust, leaders must “go first” so that we are able to grant those who follow us the things they desire most – empathy, familiarity, insight, and compassion.

In sum, any leader who decides to adopt this level of intensity and conviction will be valued and admired. Passions are not a nicety they are a necessity. It’s important that we recognize them, nurture them, and let them know that they matter. To all the passion driven leaders I have the honor and privilege of working with and learning from, I have two final words for you: YOU MATTER!

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Image credit: warrengoldswain / 123RF Stock Photo

Editor’s Note: This article has been repurposed from Angela’s site, with permission.

My life path has always been about teaching and communication. My twenty years as an educator and my passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave me the healthy dose of courage and skills that have led me through a wonderful variety of experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business.

  • Ben Simonton

    Seems to me that your audience of middle and high school principals needed a lot more that passion. They are collectively partly responsible for the demise of our culture, the failure to provide our youth with what they need to get a productive job and accept responsibility for their lives. We have about 4 million jobs without qualified applicants and a culture of dependency on government. That is the definition of failure.

  • lifeisntbroken

    Great post Angela. Passion really is so critical and often we let it get smothered beneath the day to day details. There have been times when my own passion has been on life support. Those are the times when work seemed like work. Sorry you were called out for matters outside your control.

  • Matthew

    Passion is the starting point for any great leader. I never follow anyone who doesn’t have passion. Without passion, there’s no validity in their credibility…to me.

    Matthew Newman

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  • lifeisntbroken

    There are so many places to look for the responsibility of the “demise of our culture” that it surprises me that you’d start with school principals. Yes, they need a lot more than passion. They need parents that care enough to get involved, and parents that care enough to teach their children personal responsibility instead of over indulging them. They need good funding. They need community support and less government interference, and yes, I believe they need passion. Teachers and principals who don’t have passion for what they’re doing are going to do a poor job so I applaud Angela for taking on that important issue.
    The “culture of dependency” is being passed down from earlier generations of dependency. Hand outs instead of hand ups have created learned helplessness. I worked in a program that help people learn skills and by in large, when people are given training, they use it to help themselves. The government has created a “culture of dependency on the government” in my opinion. They de-funded the program I worked at even though it was extremely successful. They have the money to keep people helpless, just none to teach them to be independent.

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