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I was at the Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year National Awards last night….and now I have a new business idea… bottled energy. If could harness the excitement in the room. The positive energy…makes you believe that you can do anything. The stories of these finalists…. none of them has had an easy ride. But all of them stay absolutely true to their vision – and they never give up.

It is clear – the leadership is about the future, whilst managing is about today. That business leaders balance carefully between the two.

You cannot shrink yourself to being the greatest… that is all of these winners were absolute risk takers, and it was very clear that leadership is a contact sport. All very close to and intimate at every level of their business. You could tell that these people were not the sort of people who would say ‘I’ll give you my people – now you fix them.’  These people thrived on being in the ‘trenches’ side by side with their people, working things out together.

According to a major US study by IBM – (sorry don’t have the exact reference). There are two things that are keeping CEOs awake at night.

  • Widespread disengagement – (that is that they are paying people to hate them.)
  • The leadership pipeline – (who are they developing as leaders for the future)

I was reading an article this week about Steve Jobs and Apple (basically if he sneezes Apple share prices go down.

(There is a nice little side article on what happened to Ten top US corporations when the high-profile leader left.)

All of this demonstrates that passion in the workplace makes such a difference – and obviously, passion from the top is infectious.

It got me thinking about something I heard recently about ensuring that there is passion in the workplace. I’ve always said its okay to have fun in business – am I now saying its okay to have passion in business – not quite. It’s about creating an environment where people are naturally passionate.

Three steps to creating a passionate environment:

  1. Do you look at people with the eyes of what could be possible
  2. Do you ensure that you don’t ‘blame’ people for learning or taking risks
  3. Do you have empathy?

There are passion killers in every business; sign off processes, procedures and forms that people no longer no why they do things. But as leaders if we continue to be passionate – stay committed to how ‘big’ we see people… and let them go for it.

Congratulations to Rod Jones of Navitas Limited – crowned Australian Entrepreneur of the Year and clearly a passionate man about changing how people new to Australia are educated.

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