Passion is essential for a business or organization to thrive whether it’s a corporation, a not-for-profit, or your own entrepreneurial business.
There are those who would argue that all a business needs to succeed is a thorough understanding of “the numbers.” They focus their attention on maintaining a firm grasp on expenses and where they can be reduced; their goal is a improving the top line, by reducing the costs of doing business.
This approach often takes the people out of the equation and glorifies spreadsheets and other software programs that track the data—but as one business guru pointed out during the last economic slowdown, you can’t “cut” your way to growth.
So, perhaps it’s more important to understand where your revenue comes from and how you can grow it: are you finding new customers? Identifying niche markets where you can become the leader? And, while you’re at it, are you maintaining a base of satisfied customers to serve as references in your growth efforts?
Many companies invest resources into market research and business models to help them address their growth goals. In both cases, whether focused on the top line or the bottom line, you can’t achieve your goals without people.
People are the element needed to achieve results; spreadsheets don’t manage businesses…people do.
The numbers are only as good as the ability of the people running the company to interpret and learn from them. They are no more than a rearview mirror, showing what we have already passed. Imagine yourself trying to drive one hundred miles and hour forward, with only your rearview mirror to guide you…sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?
And the best sales plan or marketing effort in the world will not succeed without the commitment of your people to implement it to the best of their ability…and that’s where passion is essential.
People, complete with all of their intelligence, emotions and their dreams, are what make a business. They create the culture and drive the results; when they are disengaged, there is an almost tangible lack of energy, in both the day-to-day work and the longer-range planning.
When managers make them secondary to the numbers, people feel devalued and the resulting lack of commitment counters efforts to grow the business.
It takes passion to move an organization forward—and passion comes from people feeling valued and engaged in the success of the business. It comes from having your dreams respected and your abilities recognized. It comes from believing that the mission or purpose of the organization is worthy of support. Passion makes work days feel short (even when they’re not) and fuels that extra effort that makes the difference.
How do you create and support passion in your business? Here are some ideas:
1. Treat your people with respect and hear them out; brainstorming with them may result in the winning idea you could not have come up with on your own.
2. Don’t confuse passion with anger. When people care, they can sound intense and be misinterpreted—respect the intensity and work to understand what feeds it.
3. Share the dream and the mission with your people at every level. When they share the vision of where the business is headed, they can be an enthusiastic part of making that vision a reality.
4. Appreciate differences and value diversity. In that rich mix of personalities, styles, values and ideas there is fertile ground to grow the best performance of your business.
When he headed IBM, Thomas Watson said, “Keep your heart in your business and your business in your heart.” Few would argue that IBM has enjoyed great success…and so can you.
Being passionate about your business inspires your people but it also reassures your customers that you care and are committed to doing your best.
Feed the passion in yourself (and your people) and watch your business thrive.
Editor: Bryonie Wise
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