Increasingly passion is being highlighted as a key ingredient for success at the individual, team, and organizational levels. In today’s rapidly changing and uncertain business environment, companies need passionate people who can drive outstanding and sustained performance. 

Although it has been defined in different ways, passion is best defined as a “fire in the belly” or positive energy to achieve and outperform against one’s goals. Based on significant research over the last 2 decades, we know that when people are in jobs that enable them to do what really motivates them and optimize their talents, they are far more likely to demonstrate higher levels of passion. Passionate employees are also more likely to go “above and beyond” to achieve exceptional results. Organizations today need passionate, strongly committed people to deal with rapid changes in the business environment, growing complexity and increased competition.   

Passion is different from employee engagement in that engagement focuses mainly on employee satisfaction with work environment factors such as co-workers, management, working conditions, etc. Passion is about the individual and their purpose. It focuses on how aligned and connected people are with the company’s vision and whether they believe they can use their unique talents and abilities to help the company solve challenges and achieve its goals. It provides intrinsic motivation stemming from the person’s own aspirations and sense of identity that can boost a person’s performance between paydays. 

Perseverance involves working hard to achieve goals and sticking with a task even in the face of immense pressure and setbacks. It ensures focus and discipline to establish the productive routines and habits necessary to achieve excellent results. There are many factors influencing perseverance, however, the one that is arguably most important is being committed to and energized by one’s roles and the overall purpose of the company. 

So, it seems that passion and perseverance are strongly and positively related. The research has recently been advanced by studies about “Grit” by Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Duckworth defines Grit as the capacity to sustain both effort and interest in projects or tasks that take months or even longer to complete. She has found that people who are high in Grit don’t deviate from their goals, even in the absence of positive feedback and in the face of adversity. The Grit concept is essentially a combination of passion and perseverance. It suggests that we should be looking to identify and develop both in our people, rather than focusing on one or the other. 

Suggested Reading:

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, 2016, Angela Duckworth. London: Penguin

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About the Author

James is a leadership and talent consultant, business psychologist, and executive coach. He has over 25 years’ experience working with leaders, teams, and organizations to optimize their talent, performance, and future success.

Before moving into consulting, James held corporate leadership roles in People and Talent Management in the UK and abroad with companies such as Yahoo! and Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals. Since moving into talent consulting and assessment design, he has supported leaders and teams globally across many sectors and geographies. Clients he has worked with include Allen & Overy, Commvault, Equinor, Graze, LVMH, Facebook, GSK, Hilton, John Lewis, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, NHS, Oracle, Sainsbury's, Swiss Re, Tesco, WSP and Yahoo! James has founded and run several ventures, including Strengthscope®, an international strengths assessment and development business, that he sold in 2018.

James has a Master’s in Organizational Psychology, an MBA, and an Advanced Diploma in Executive Coaching. He is a regular writer and speaker on talent assessment and development, leadership, and the future of work.