Managing People With Passion


My working life has been spent working with a wide variety of organisations. But they all have one thing in common. Each is trying to make the world a better place. Whether operating in the private, public or third sector they have all been about making things better.

People join these organisations because they:

  1. Want to make a positive difference in the world
  2. Develop their own potential and capacity in making this difference
  3. Want to provide food, warmth and shelter for themselves and their loved ones.

They want to belong in an organisation where they can grow, make a difference and earn a living.

They need respectful and nurturing management. The salary to them is important – but in the long run it is personal growth and making a difference that they really value. They need management that focuses on helping them to make their contribution.

Many of the organisations I have worked with have struggled in this area. People lose their sense of purpose and identity as they become consumed by delivering ‘the service’ or ‘the contract’. They become more technically proficient at what they do – but their optimism and belief slowly fades away and performance slowly degrades.

This process is driven by an orthodox approach to management that focuses on tasks and fails to engage with dreams and aspirations. The noble goals are transformed into routine. There is a famous story about the floor sweeper at NASA who proudly told visitors that he was working to help put men on the moon. Well, in many organisations this process of ennobling a job is completely reversed. People doing great work, contributing to great goals, become reduced to ‘marketing co-ordinators’, ‘database administrators’ or ‘account managers’. They get absorbed into management systems, balanced scorecards, customer service standards and the other paraphernalia of modern management and they lose sight of what they are all about.

Managing people with passion has to be done differently. It has to keep the sense of purpose ‘up front’.

It has to keep the passion burning.