Creating a passionate workplace is not as simple as one would like to think. I’ve written often on the important role that passion plays in personal success and fulfillment (see “Passion equals Purpose“). However in today’s post I want to offer a bit of a different take on the value of passion…In the text that follows I’ll examine the impact of passion as a key success metric for the overall enterprise. Before you read the balance of today’s post I want you to stop and ask yourself the following question: How many of your employees are truly passionate about your company, its vision, its mission and the role that they play within the organization? Don’t fool yourself…conduct a harsh, critical analysis and come up with a true head count of the passionate employees within your organization.

Your answer to the question above should be a very telling sign about the overall health of your business. Are people just showing-up and punching the clock to collect a paycheck, or are they personally consumed by, and committed to achieving the company vision? Are your employees corporate evangelists serving as a motivating force, or do they gather in small groups to gripe and complain about all the things wrong with the company and its leadership?

It is your passionate employees that are the franchise talent (regardless of position) that you should be building around. If you can’t get employees to see the light and become passionate about the company and their contribution, then seek to replace them as quickly as possible. Just as passion is a positive, contagious trait, it is important to realize that so are apathy and dissatisfaction. Passionate employees are productive, energized, committed and loyal assets. Apathetic employees quickly become disenfranchised liabilities that will hurt both productivity and morale. To drive home the point of how much I value passionate employees, I would take a moderately talented but passionate employee over a very talented but complacent employee eleven times out of ten…

Truly great companies are built around passionate employees. When you walk into a dynamic, thriving company you can sense the passion…you feel a certain buzz and fervor that pervades everything. Contrast this with a company that feels as if it has no pulse…If you’ve ever walked into an organization that feels like rigor-mortise has set in you know what I’m referring to…

As a leader you need to understand that your employees not only want to be led, they want to be led by a passionate leader, and ultimately, they want to be passionate about what they do. Think of the employees that started off with Gates and Allen at Microsoft, or those that worked with Phil Knight in his garage before Nike even had a name, or those employees that endured the early days with Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google…it was their passion and commitment that helped change the landscape of business.

To build an extraordinary company, you must light the “fire in the bellies,” of your workforce…You must get them to feel passion about your organization and to connect with your vision. Passion is among the traits that are at the essence of being a great leader…So much so that if you’re not passionate, you simply can’t be a great leader. Think of any great leader and while you’ll find varying degrees of skill sets, intellect, and ability, I challenge to name even one that did not have passion.

The bottom line is simply this…If you don’t possess an unquenchable passion for your vision, you need to recreate your vision, or at least re-frame your description of your vision so it becomes connected to your passion. Until you do this you will never see your company reach its full potential.