Leadership Passion Trumps Skill

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Leadership passion versus skill

Leadership Passion Trumps Skill

Leadership skill or leadership passion. Which do you think is best for you and your business? I believe leadership passion trumps skill, and here’s why.

If I asked you which is best for your organisation, leadership skill or leadership passion, how would you answer?

Quoted by Women’s Agenda, Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate says “passion and purpose” can beat skills any day. I agree with her. I think passion is such an essential part of being a great leader that without it, you’re just a talented manager. Let me tell you why.

Skills can be learnt, passion can’t

To get to where you are today, you’ve probably read many books, been coached and attended dozens of training courses. You’ve learnt processes and procedures. You’ve developed knowledge and acquired interpersonal and technical skills. These are the aspects of leadership which can be taught or gained through experience.

Famous golfer Lee Trevino said, “You can’t teach passion. You can teach everything else.” Passion is born from some inner conviction and sense of purpose. In his case, golf was his passion. It was more than sheer enthusiasm or enjoyment; it’s something deep in his genetic makeup that drove him to play the game. Like energy or motivation, you can’t teach it.

What passion achieves that skill doesn’t

Passion is motivating. It makes you unstoppable, with an inner driver pushing you along. It’s so strong that it motivates you more than the promise of monetary reward.

Passion sparks innovation when you find new ways of doing things or create new tools to get you closer to your goal.

Passion creates influence. There’s a saying around that goes like this: Set yourself on fire with passion and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” It makes people pay attention to you, listen to you, hear you and admire you. It helps you build your tribe and your reputation. It builds your personal brand and can make you a person of influence.

It’s Simon Sinek’s ‘Why’ – the reason you do what you do, and it’s what people respond to. It’s your story, and it motivates others to work alongside you. Passion can’t be learnt, but it can be contagious.

How leaders can spread their passion

Many of us tend to keep our passions hidden so we stay aligned with the rest of our peers. Isn’t that a waste? If you have a passion for what you do, and you want others to share it, the best way to do that is by showing it.

#1. Storytelling is powerful

Talk about how you discovered your passion and what you want to achieve. Explain your ‘why’ so people can see and feel your vision. Stories give people something to hang onto, and they stick in our memories to spark energy when we need it.

#2. Share your energy

Your emotion infects the people around you. How often have you walked into a room and picked up a negative vibe which pulls you down straight away? If you want people energised, happy and motivated, show your enthusiasm for work and life. Show your happiness and drive. Your team will soon share in your energy.

#3. Stay human

Passionate and driven leaders can sometimes seem unapproachable, like a dynamo that can’t be interrupted. They eventually become a one-person band.

To keep the passion alive in your team, you need to be very human. By that I mean open and honest about what’s happening, good and bad. Express your feelings and share your thoughts. Allow your vulnerability to show. Talk with people but also listen. Don’t just focus on your goal; remember to play along the way so the group energy stays high.

Passionate leaders spread passion to others and that’s what leads to peak performance, high engagement, and happy and motivated teams. Leadership skills will help you do your job, but passion will help you master it.


Would you like to talk more about your leadership passion and how to share it with your team? Get in touch with our wonderful team at Empowering Ambitious Women. Our team of mentors can help work out the best plan for you and your business.

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I am a Mum, business founder, author and accomplished CEO with over 20 years’ experience in the corporate world. My childhood dream was to become a fighter pilot, but when that didn’t materialise, I found my place in the corporate world, climbing the sales and marketing ladder to my role as CEO of Cox & Kings Australia.

I'm the founder of Empowering Ambitious Women, I've led start-ups to companies with annual revenues from $55 million to more than $250 million. My role as CEO of Australia’s leading franchise network of professional builders saw me as a pioneer in the industry; as a female CEO leading a large franchise home building company.

I was formally recognised twice by the Telstra Business Women's Awards my achievements in business.

As a woman who became one of the 16% of female CEOs, and who has led in male-dominated industries, I’m passionate about creating pathways for women leaders to step up, take a seat at the table and own it.

I love; French champagne, socialising, dining out and having an impact...

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