It seems that in business today passion is the answer, whatever the question happens to be. Wherever I happen to look, whatever passes for business reading, whenever advice is given, passion seems to find its way in there somewhere. Now I’m not a complete spoilsport but I think it has gone a little way from the original business linkage that got this passion thing started. It might have seemed a good idea for the innovators and the early-adopters to sprinkle their scribblings and their CVs with the ‘P’ word but when one comes across people claiming to be passionate about selling industrial drain cleaner we should clearly recognise it’s gone too far and it’s time to move on.
My Oxford dictionary defines passion as “Ardent love or affection, intense sexual love’ and more in a similar vein, ignoring for the purposes of this chain of thought those meanings of a more spiritual nature (although there does seem to be a concerted and increasing effort from some quarters to infiltrate business with matters of faith and spirituality – but perhaps that’s best left for another day). If I’m generous and allowing for the tendency towards inflation in language, even as the monetary equivalent eats away at our incomes, then perhaps, what is meant is what used to pass for enthusiasm or commitment? OK, I’ll admit that having ‘commitment’ to or ‘enthusiasm’ for drain cleaner might seem a little prosaic but isn’t it safer than inferring sexual or theistic tendencies in the workplace?
Passion implies a surfeit of emotion and to be quite honest I’ve never found emotion to be a good thing either in the board room or in business generally (other than in exceptional circumstances and those usually from the leader). Yes, an understanding of the role of emotion when positioning our brand of drain cleaner in the minds of the nation’s housewifes for the purposes of our next advertising campaign might well be useful. But as the sole stratagem for building and running a business? I think not.
So, unless you happen to be charged with finding candidates for the Italian or French government (or certain international financial organisations) I suggest it would be entirely appropriate to stick to more traditional measures when assessing new company recruits or promotion candidates. For me, I’ve always found that the right combination of qualifications, experience, behavioural characteristics, competencies and plain vanilla commitment and motivation seem to get the job done nicely.
Or have I led an unduly sheltered life?