Know When your Passion can Become a Leadership Challenge.
Dec 05, 2023 5 min read

If you consider yourself a passionate leader, you must be familiar with the intensity with which you experience your life and work. You bring high energy to the workplace, which mobilises your teams to achieve results and fuels your own achievements.

Let's face it- Passion is contagious because it is associated with emotions, and emotions are contagious because they are energy in motion!

However, is it time to pause and reflect?

Could it be possible that your passion is contributing to dissatisfaction, restlessness and frustration within you and thereby impacting your effectiveness?

Leaders who are passionate about what they do drive results, so first, let us look at why passion is your superpower.


The Benefits

As mentioned earlier, passionate people often feel things very intensely and deeply. Feeling things significantly, they are quick to pick up on problems and are alert to dynamics and situations that can derail performance in the workplace. 

Their passion keeps them proactive and focused on moving forward. 

Passionate leaders can also be resilient and are not easily deterred from what they are trying to achieve. Their team relies on them to solve challenges by finding solutions that sustain momentum.

Feeling deeply also makes people reflective, making the leaders quite self-aware and self-critical about themselves and others.

Added to this, passionate leaders can also be sensitive and emotional. This emotion shows up in their body language, communication and behaviour. It works well in situations where there is a display of positive emotions.

I recall a leader from my past work experience who was addressing us on an important issue. As he began speaking, we could visibly see that his passion for the subject was stirring him. He was excited and fully engaged, which positively impacted everyone. It was inspiring to watch him.


Passion Can Derail

The ability to feel things deeply also leads to worrying more than most about what can go wrong. 

Others recognise your passion for improving things but can be put on edge by too great a focus on risk.

Passionate leaders care intensely about what they do, and their motivation drives them. However, they find it difficult to understand that others may not share the same passion as them, and they can become irritable and impatient with members of their team. There is a danger of displays of emotional volatility.

As your expectations and standards are high, you may frequently feel let down by others, which makes trusting people hard. 

You may also dislike stressful situations because they heighten feelings of anxiety. Colleagues might perceive you as moody, on-edge, and overcritical. There can be a tendency to take feedback personally. 

For example, I coached a client, Anita, who spent nearly ten years leading a team in an export house. She ensures the business house stays successful. Her passion extends beyond her work to the welfare of the factory workers. These factors combined should make Anita an admired and influential leader. 

While her people respect her for her business success, her influence is rooted in fear vs inspiration. This is because Anita is very critical of both herself and others. She is impatient, intolerant, and is known for her angry outbursts. Her team is stressed around her, and it has led to high attrition rates in her organisation, Anita's predicament is a case where her passion works both for her and against her in her leadership style.


Strategies and Tips

Being alert to the signs of when your passionate leadership style is derailing you and introducing self-management strategies at that time helps you pivot to a more balanced state of being.

Below are strategies and tips to help you mitigate the risk of your passion derailing you - 

  • Being self-aware also means understanding your stress triggers and practising techniques to stay calm and self-soothe. 

  • Celebrate diversity. Understand and appreciate that others might not see or feel things in the same way you do. 

  •  Practice spending your emotional resources more sparingly – acting and reacting to everything that happens is a drain on your energy. 

  • Try to meet people where they are vs where you think they should be. Your acceptance will lead to healthier relationships and create psychological safety for your team members.

  • When working as a team, use that energy and passion to be positive and energised around the task.

  •  Be sure to communicate any challenges as opportunities and rally those around you to achieve the team's goals. 

  • As a leader, it's important that you manage your emotions. Doing so will ensure that you do not strain the relationships with your teammates. 

  • Try to view various happenings with a greater amount of distance and objectivity. 

  • Being more alert to risk can make you anxious about what can go wrong. Because you are more cautious than most others, you avoid making decisions or putting too much emphasis on the potential losses or risks. There is a danger of analysis paralysis. Looking for what works and the bright spots helps to create a balance. Also, separate facts from emotions to get a clearer picture.



Your passion is a gift to both yourself and others. Knowing when to tap into it and when to let go is the art of balance to create a more fulfilled you and get the best from others.


I look forward to hearing from you. Please pass your insights, comments and thoughts through my email id


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