How to Lead Passionately

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Scenario: "Yo! I have to read business books. Yay! High-five!" What's the problem with most leaders?

  1. They clone each other.
  2. They read too many management books.
  3. They lack passion.

As a result, those un-passionate leaders produce sucky-blah-boring-run-of-the-mill companies. A leadership book can only teach you so much; at the end of the day, it takes much more to really kick ass. It takes evolving your life story to lead your company like the passionate mutha-!@^^% you were meant to be.

What Makes Leaders Rock

The best business books in the world on leadership won't prime you to rock. Cloning other ridiculously awesome leaders will destroy your own passion. Instead, according to Harvard's Bill George in study -- "Authentic Leadership" -- on fabulous leaders, it takes adapting your life story to leading your sexy company:


We were very surprised by what they were telling us, because we thought that going in they were going to tell us the traits, characteristics and leadership styles that made them successful.

What it Takes

And, instead what they told us was that their passions came from their life stories. It took a little while for this to sink in. At first it seemed like mush. But the more we got into it, it was so consistent that people wanted to talk about how they captured their passions from a crucible life experience, a transforming experience or just a "growing up" experience.

How Passionate Leaders Rocked

Four instances:

  • Starbucks' Howard Schultz experienced the cruelty of his dad's employer, and built a company that provided world-class coverage to its people.
  • Doctors gave Kimberly-Clark's Darwin Smith less than a year to live, so he built the biggest-baddest consumer paper-products company in the world while he still could -- for the next 25 years.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. experienced racism while playing baseball with a white friend, and led one of the world's biggest reform movements.
  • Gandhi experienced South African bigotry, and led the world's most powerful resistance against tyranny.


No Life Story = No Passion = Lame Results

Some spoiled dude in Greenwich Village who never experienced the trials and tribulations of South African bigotry would lead a pretty sucky movement against tyranny. Likewise, a Hollywood actor campaigning to tackle global warming -- while flying on private jets -- would lead a disastrous campaign. Instead:

Leading passionately takes listening to your own life story.

  • What made you tick?
  • What shaped your views?
  • What destroyed your soul?
  • What made you stronger?

Then, lead accordingly.

Lead through your story.

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Posted on April 04

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