Millennials – the future of all businesses – are passion seekers. They want to work for passionate people in passionate firms.
This is a great reason to make passion, often overlooked in the context of business strategy, a part of your firm’s strategy.
According to Richard Stanger, CEO at StangerCarlson LLC and Carolyn K. Carlson, president at the same firm, passion does not always mean a visible display of enthusiasm or sheer extroverted energy. It means deep dedication to the job, to results and to people. Passionate people wake up each morning excited to go to work and are energized by what they do.
In an advisory firm, passion begins in the executive office as the behavior of the partners drives the firm’s culture. If the partners are passionate in all respects, the staff will also be passionate. Many firms have pockets of passion in particular offices, industries or service lines. This is why partner behaviors are a key aspect of firm business strategy. If you are a managing partner making leadership appointments, passion should be at the top of your list of critical personal attributes for leaders, exceeded only by integrity.
Passion requires direction and focus, says Stanger and Carlson. “It’s important for professionals to be passionate about the firm, not just their clients or personal achievement. In this respect, passion is different from ambition. It means focusing energy around doing the right thing and speaking about “we” rather than “me”.”
Passion is also important as it inspires trust. “If you are surrounded by colleagues who do the right thing enthusiastically, thoroughly and consistently, you will trust them. As a partner, you will be comfortable delegating to staff who care deeply about the work they are doing. You will be confident that they will deliver a first-rate work product back to you.”
Teaching passion to your staff requires a systematic approach. It can’t be done in the classroom or through blended learning approaches. You need to use established behavioral instruments to measure the underlying behaviors among those in your firm who display passion, beginning with partners. Then these behaviors can be built into a career framework that shows expected behaviors at different levels of advancement. This approach represents a major departure from traditional competency models that rely on behavioral libraries not linked to the passion markers within your firm’s culture.
You also need to focus on recruiting staff who display passionate behaviors. Once you know the behaviors you are seeking, you can adjust your behavioral interview guide to include questions that surface and measure these behaviors.
The last reason to install passion across the firm is that it makes work fun. It creates an energy and purpose that can’t be faked.