Is “Passion” a Reasonable Performance Expectation?

I love what I do. I’m totally jazzed about leadership, leadership development, my department, and my company. I’m a rah rah, a cheerleader, and try hard never to be cynical or critical.

In other words, I’m PASSIONATE about my work.

Not every day, 100% of the time. I have my moments. But most of the time.

It’s not my nature to be this way. I have to work at it. I consider it an important part of my job as a leader. I’ve also found I’m more successful and satisfied when I feel this way about my job and company.

Here’s the dilemma, though. As a leader, is it a fair and reasonable expectation to expect our employees to be passionate about their work? What if an employee’s doing an adequate job, but just don’t give a @#%*?

I think I know what the HR answer would be: probably not. I’ve never seen “passion” in a job description or a performance appraisal. Somehow I don’t firing someone for a lack of passion holding up in court.

But as a leader, I don’t just want someone that’s just good at what they do; I want them to be good and love it. To me, it’s that enthusiasm for the job that separates most “A” players from the rest of the pack. Those kinds of employees raise the spirit and performance of those around them.

While I realize all organizations have a bell performance distribution curve, I’m greedy – I want ALL “A” players on my team. Shouldn’t every leader? Isn’t that the kind or leader, and organization, you’d rather work for?

But what about “mundane” jobs – how can you possibly get passionate about, say, delivering mail for the US postal service? Fred can. How about a Walmart greeter? Marty did.

Am I out of line here? Passion, commitment and enthusiasm about our work is a personal choice. Can we as leaders, expect it from our employees? Or do we just hope for it and appreciate it when we get it?