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Heated passion or steady-calm

I’ve always leaned toward the passionate side of life. For example, debate energizes me. Public speaking excites me. Advocating for a compelling vision fires me up. I agree with those who say, “Passion trumps everything.”

However, many leadership functions call for steady-calm rather than heated passion. Listening, problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution, and more all require steady-calm. Furthermore, heated passion actually hinders the things just listed.

I’ve had opportunity to watch a leader who excels at steady-calm. I admire his ability to withhold judgment, explore issues, and speak with level tones. On the other hand, I have a friend on a corporate-level career path. I believe his passionate disposition may slow his progress.

The calm side of leadership coupled with competence is the stuff that builds confidence in stake-holders, customers, subordinates and colleagues. Steady-calm makes you predictable, consistent, approachable, and trustable.  However competence without a steady-calm disposition undermines the confidence of others.

How to excel at the steady-calm side of leadership?

#1. Relax! If you’re passionate, learn to chill out. Breathe deeply. Don’t let stress and pressure drive your attitude and interactions.

#2. Listen more, speak less and speak slowly. I find passion drives my mouth. The more passionate I feel the more I need to talk. The more I need to talk, the faster my words come out. It’s better to act otherwise. Use passion to quiet your spirit.

#3. Learn to delegate and trust those equipped to manage and lead. I find trusting others quiets my need for heated passion. At this point leadership is more about equipping others to act than about leading the charge.


How do you think steady calm and heated passion relate to leadership? Do you agree with the importance of steady calm? How can passionate people learn to exhibit steady calm?


Leadership Freak,

Dan Rockwell

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