Road trip….more specifically….14 uninterrupted hours of driving alone from Vancouver to Smithers…..no cell phone, no email, no radio, no music….nothing but me, my truck, and the hum of the road. Ever tried that? It’s an incredible experience! During the first hour or two, a bit of panic sets in as you realize that you’re “unplugged”….then a sigh of relief and comfort as your brain unclenches and you can process, truly process your thoughts….be it random or focused on recent or past events.
What was I processing…glad you asked…I was thinking about my new role at McNak and about all the previous jobs I’ve had over the past 25 years. Dishwasher, busboy, waiter, customer service, gas jockey, sales rep, entrepreneur, client relations, marketing, and account manager. How have they shaped me? What have I learned? What is important to me as I begin the next 25 years of work in my life? Two words constantly popped into my head – “passion” and “leader”. What does it mean to be passionate about work, to be a leader, to be a passionate leader?
I wondered aloud (it’s ok to do this when you’re on a road trip alone), is a passionate leader always a good thing or does passion have a dark side that can cause things to go awry and create misery for an organization? (think Darth Vader) I believe the answer is a resounding yes! Companies have a duty to its employees, share(stake)holders, and customers to remove a imprudent, selfish, passionate leader from its ranks – a “leaderectomy”.
Passionate leaders, consciously or not, who use fear and control to achieve their goals are ultimately responsible for creating a toxic and unbearable culture within their organization. It’s up to the leader’s leader to look past the numbers and dig right down to the front line troops and ask the question, “Do you like working here?” Any answer besides “yes” demands more investigation and possible leaderectomy!
The truly terrific leader firstly motivates his or her reports to be their best and then secondly, inspires them to be a company brand advocate. Imagine how great the workplace would be if everyone loved being there. Imagine how happy the customer would be!
Each and every day we are presented with opportunities to lead. Will you be a Darth Vader or a Yoda?
After my 14 hour drive, I met up with my family and had a wonderful two-week vacation….on the way home I was excited to get back to the McNak office and re-join my colleagues. We have fun here.
P.S. Great quote on my grandmother-in-law’s fridge: “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up” – Jesse Jackson