Passion! The One Thing that Can't be Out-Sourced

Michelle Bazargan

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Today's businesses are dealing with challenges and changes that are transforming how they do business. Leadership is no longer defined as merely keeping up with pace of change and managing through it. True leadership is looking into the future, anticipating trends and proactively defining innovative strategies. Future business success rests, in part, on how well leaders can anticipate change, demonstrate leadership, and maximize the power of their talent.

Talent is about a leader's ability to leverage and amplify the impact of their people. How many times do you hear "hire the right skilled people and put them in the right role" - if it's that easy why doesn't it work?

As a society we are wired to look for prestigious degrees, accolades, certifications, fancy titles, and experiences at big name companies. In interviews we ask the same basic questions "tell me about your strengths and weakness." We pressure our kids to "follow the process" - get good grades, get into a great school, get a good job with great benefits. We ask them "what do you want to be - engineer, surgeon, astronaut..." and the check box list goes on and on...

With today's commoditized global labor market does this old way of thinking, old hiring process, and technical skill "that sounds prestigious" euphoria still fit today's business needs?

So what's the secret ingredient that prestigious schools and experience can't teach you, and the differentiator you cant outsource? - It's PASSION!!!!!!

Passion is an emotional response that makes us behave in certain ways. How often have you heard "leave your emotions outside and just focus on the job"? Or a person is "leadership material" because they are "not emotional." The fact is, neither you nor I, nor anyone who has been through countless hours of emotional intelligence training - can actually do that and be successful. Those chemical reactions that fire us up or bring us down have a large impact on our ability to be passionate, execute at 150% and deliver! If you hire and promote "emotionless" people you will get just that. If you hire people who will be naturally fired up with passion by their work, you will find an incredible source of super-performance power.

While it does count for a lot, experience should never be the dominant standard when looking to hire or promote talent. If companies seek out passionate people who care about what they do, they will not only get better results, but they will attract better talent. It's not that technical skills aren't important, but because they are much easier to assess, they become the main source of measurement. Oddly enough in numerous studies - PASSION, not skills, is the top predictor of a success or failure. Every job, from engineers to surgeons to cashiers, have tests that can assess technical proficiency. But what those tests don't assess is passion; whether a person is motivated to learn new skills, think innovatively, cope with failure and get back up.

Look at every single sport and professional athlete. Sure, they need to have technical ability, but they also put in hours upon hours of difficult and grueling practice every day. If they didn't really love playing, the best players wouldn't subject themselves to that pain day in and day out. But they know that is what's required to be the best, and they love working toward that goal.

Passionate employees are the same; they get up and keep trying until they get it right because they enjoy trying. That's why passion is a vital asset to any company, more important than how many years of schooling or experience someone has. Passionate people don't approach obstacles as burdens, but rather as interesting problems to solve on the path toward achieving goals.

So start with how you promote and hire:

1.) Shift away from technical skills focus - You can train for skills and expertise. But you can't train for passion. People either have it ... or they don't.

2.) Ask the right questions that will determine if a person is passionate - When you bring someone in for an interview, don't just inquire about their accomplishments, what they've done is rarely as important as why they did it in the first place. Look for the truth within the background. Ask! Why are you so passionate about that? A person who wants something bad enough, will continue to persevere through difficulties to reach goals.

3.) It's all in the body language - Passionate people exude energy. Just look at body language and listen to tone of voice as much as words. You can tell when someone is talking about something they genuinely like doing. They sit up straighter, their eyes light up.

4.) Build a passionate team - A team of people who sincerely love getting up and going to work together every day. Passionate people can spot their tribe in action. They'll want to work with you, and chances are, you'll see that desire reflected in your team.

5.) Help our kids find the "Spark" - How about asking our kids what they are passionate about? Encourage them to explore and be curious about life, give them the keys to the experience kingdom. Help them become PASSIONATE adults.

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