Last week I wrote about 3 requirements for great leadership, Passion, Purpose and Principle. I had quite a few questions from readers. The most frequently asked question was, which of the 3 requirements for Leadership, is most important. This week I try and answer that question.
Everyone wants to join a cause they are passionate about. Yet in a world where few hold to their convictions, where mediocrity is acceptable and conformity (‘think like us or you will be ostracized) abounds is what we call “passion”, really passion? I describe passion as a ‘ burning desire of the heart’. The heart being your inner man, your core. The Passion I’m talking about is not dependent on external circumstances or tied to the latest craze or cause. Its a desire that makes you excited, that drives you and that if not fulfilled leaves you wanting.
Last week I spoke about my passion for Public speaking. It’s what I love to do and I feel as if I could burst when I’m in my flow. My husband is passionate about movies, loves to watch them, critique them and ultimately this led to him writing a short movie script that was produced by a youth organisation. Both of us do these things even without pay as it’s a burning desire.
Another way to think of it is the Biblical Term “Zeal”. Zeal can be positive or negative. David was Zealous about the Lord. So much so that he didn’t mind looking a fool, despite his wife’s contempt at his undignified dancing in Praise of his God.!You see passion costs us something. It’s not always easy and often requires a leap of faith.
Passion is an important leadership requirement as it’s the fuel that drives us. It gives us energy and helps us to accelerate. However, just like fuel for a vehicle, without a vehicle the fuel is useless. Passion needs purpose to realise that desire and so become fulfilled. Passion also needs Principle to ensure we use our passion in a ‘worthy manner’.
The question remains – is Passion the more important of the 3 Leadership requirements? Given that Passion needs both Purpose and Principle I would say No.
Purpose gives us meaning and direction. As I mentioned in my blog The Secret to Success having purpose in life is essential to our well-being. We were designed to fulfill purpose .
If Passion needs the vehicle of Purpose to be fulfilled; Purpose needs passion or else it becomes ‘obligation’. Full of should’s and ought’s. Finding our purpose must be more than an obligation, or, performance. Purpose should be freeing, obligation and performance are stifling. If Purpose is approached as obligation we are likely to labour in the wrong vineyard. If approached as performance we are likely to suffer burn out and may not ‘fulfill our hearts desires’.
Before I had a sense of, or should I say accepted my purpose as a leader. I spent much time trying to fit into a purpose I had created from something that I value. I have a huge justice streak. Two of my personal values speak to this:
- Insight; for me this means seeking to understand people’s passions, gifts and experiences and valuing and respecting their differences and treating them with fairness even if I do not hold the same values.
- Trust; that is demonstrating integrity (honesty) and intent (right/honourable motives).
Because I held these core values I believed my purpose was to fight for justice for others being a Barrister/Lawyer. For a while this kept me ‘stuck’ in a job I knew was not for me and burn out occurred. I also wasn’t being effective in helping others.
When we get a revelation of God’s Purpose for our lives, this changes everything.
Purpose not only gives us direction in life – it allows us to dream big. Free of should’s and ought’s.
So is Purpose the most important Leadership requirement? Again I would say No as Purpose needs Passion and Principle.
Principle without passion can become legalism. When we seek to fulfill the Great Co-Mission but have not tapped into our passion we may be zealous but become like the Apostle Paul. Paul persecuted Christians sincerely believing he was doing the work of the Church.
We may have a passion and know our purpose but principle will ensure we fulfill our desires and goal in the right way. Moreover, principles are essential to wisdom. Wisdom has been said to be about knowing which principles to apply in a the right context. If Passion is to be fulfilled and Purpose is to be executed then wisdom is essential for both.
So is Principle the most important Leadership requirement. Again I’d say No. but it could be considered the foundation. In-fact perhaps another way to think of the 3 requirements is like this:
Each of the requirements are equally important, what is central, the most important is the Source from which our passion, purpose and principle flow.
Perhaps one of the sides of the triangle is more in focus for you right now. I’d love to hear your views and experiences. Feel free to leave a comment or email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org