What Does Passion at Work Look Like? How To Drive Higher Meaning, Passion & Purpose In The Workplace

What does Passion at Work look like?

Professional Passion is the belief that your work is personally meaningful to you and that through your work you get to feel emotionally and cognitively expressed. This is the place where your gifts, talents, values and professional truths work harmoniously together. And when that happens it supports your ability to bring your best contribution forward. Fueling your success as well as the success of the team or the organization at large. How? Because Passion is a force that turns on the power of the human will to change the world around us. It is inspiring, it is motivating and it is highly personal to each of us.

What Passion at work doesn’t look like

Passion at work doesn’t mean that everyone is going to feel like they are walking on cloud nine every day. It doesn’t even mean that you will like every aspect of your work all the time. It simply means that the net value of what you do exceeds the smaller aspects of your work that is less enjoyable. And that can only happen when work is considered meaningful to the individual deploying it. The challenge here is that most of the time companies don’t know how to measure or quantify for Passion – so it’s not really factored in or discussed as a helpful strategy to implement. Even if much of the research calls out the many benefits of meaningful work and Passion in our human psychology.

Why should anyone, especially Companies, care about Passion?

When it comes to Passion, the first thing we have to get clear on, is that it has 2 sides. Healthy and Unhealthy. In Passion’s more healthier state it is a driver of success. That is mainly due to it being a driver for positive behavioural and productivity enhancing traits. Studies show that higher levels of healthy Passion (that my company terms Passion Health™) is directly related to increasing a host of positive traits. Traits like: Creativity, Innovative Thinking In Problem Solving, Resilience, Confidence, Attendance, Performance, Retention, Attention, Psychological Well-Being, and Reduced Negative Behavioral Patterns (like bullying and intimidation).

But here’s the catch.

Unhealthy Passion can compromise and even cancel out the healthy upsides. In that it can create imbalances in our neurological system. When that happens it triggers some negative behavioural and counter-productive traits that can cause us to be in/have: constant states of Overdrive; Binary Thought Patterns (all or nothing); Tunnel Vision (has to be a certain way); Increased Temperamentality – that can create bullying or intimidation as a strategy to get the desire; Reduced Creativity; Over-Confidence; Increased Sensitivity to Failure that reduces Resiliency and Performance, and ultimately all playing into Reducing Psychological Well-Being and Mental Health.

This is why it is critical that organizations learn how to capture Passion and how to measure for the health of Passion. And using that data – organizations must also learn how to influence cultures that support their teams’ Passion Health™.

When Passion Health™ in the workplace is present, people feel comfortable bringing their full, authentic selves to work and are okay with putting themselves and their work ‘out there’ and ‘laying themselves on the line’ in front of others. Organizations with Passion healthy work environments also create a platform where employees feel free to ask the bold questions, share their concerns, take calculated risks, and collaborate freely with each other. This open communication network acts like a front line approach to ensure mistakes or leaks don’t happen on the back end – or at minimum, the risks are mitigated. Research shows that when companies function like this, they are all the better for it.

We believe, based on forecasts done at our company, that Passion in the workplace will significantly grow in importance in the coming years. We highlight it in our Passion Health™ At Work Project where we focus on how leadership and companies can evolve with our evolving professional needs in tandem with the needs of the evolving workplace climate.

We validated much of the already existing research in a recent research study we conducted involving 2,174 participants (including leaders, students and entrepreneurs). Our research was conducted over a 3 year period, and we found that individuals and teams with high degrees of Passion Health™ had higher levels of performance and attendance, while showcasing reduced levels of negative behavioural incidences (ie. interpersonal conflict, bullying, intimidation, etc.) compared to those with lower Passion Health™ scores. What is new about this study is that for the first time we have coined the ingredients of what creates Passion Health™ individually, and collectively. *AKA – BIG NEWS…and something we are extremely proud of.*

It’s important to recognize (and know) that not all team members will have the same perception or experience of Passion in self or others. This is why Passion Health™ matters.

Passion is an output.

It is an output that’s based on three inputs:

  1. How each individual defines and identifies their meaning
  2. How they invest in said meaning
  3. What creates the building blocks that support meaning (a component we can finally now see thanks in large to our Passion Health™ study)

This has real business implications as when we fail to understand the unique Passion Drivers of each other and create environments where they are championed – we fail in 4 key areas.

  1. Capturing innovative ideas
  2. Creative problem solving,
  3. Collaboration amongst teams,
  4. Shared information or insights

Each failure produces cultures that don’t integrate properly or innovate together because people’s feelings and experiences are masked. Ultimately this behaviour sabotages any real ability to reach the individuals’ full potential, or the full potential of the organization at large.

All of this to say, Passion matters.

And it matters in a much bigger context than most organizations (and people) realize.

The Importance of Passion Health™ at Work

A lack of Passion at work is not just some missing “emotional luxury”; it impacts the organization’s bottom line. Having a higher level of Passion Health™ helps to unlock the professional contributions of all talent in the enterprise while ensuring the organization is better equipped to prevent paths to failure.

Passion creates a ‘care more’ mentality across the organization.

In contrast, when Passion Health™ at work is low and people are uncomfortable raising concerns or putting their full self forward, initiatives move forward that don’t work, that organizations aren’t equipped to improve, and talent begins to disengage. When employees aren’t fully committed to shared organizational success, solutions go unvetted, ideas aren’t pressure-tested, processes and procedures aren’t optimized, and ultimately the enterprise has lost a great opportunity to leverage the contributions of the full extent of its talent.

So where do we start?

Here are 4 Quick Steps Towards Creating More Passion Health™ at Work, Today

Our Tips for Leaders

Here’s how leaders can start to help create a more Passion Healthy workplace.

Step 1

How Safe Does Your Team Feel? Ensure psychological safety is an explicit priority, and nothing less.

Passion Health™ cannot happen without Psychological Safety. Talk with your team about the importance of creating psychological safety at work. Connect it back to them. Ask questions about your team. What drives them? What inspires them? It’s great for everyone to know the higher purpose of the greater organization, but what’s in it for them? How does team engagement impact them directly, and what about inclusion – how do they feel? How do they see they fit into the whole picture? Model the behaviors you want to see, and set the stage by going first. Share what drives and inspires you. What is your vision? What drives personal meaning about your profession, to you? If you are looking for a way to tap into the power of that last statement, you might want to follow this article up with a quick message over to me asking about our ‘7 days to Passion Clarity Bootcamp’.

Step 2

How Is Failure Looked At And Handled? Establish norms for how failure is perceived and addressed.

Passion Health™ requires experimentation and (reasonable) risk-taking. Punishing for those areas shuts down a person’s ability to show up and own what they are Passionate about. Praise goes a lot further than punishment in this domain. Demonstrate that mistakes are an opportunity for growth – and look for the information, data and insights the mistake brought to the table that may not have been there before it. Celebrate it. Encourage learning from failure and disappointment, and openly share your hard-won lessons learned from your own past mistakes. This helps to encourage an environment that fosters innovation instead of status quo and fear. Use honesty to help encourage the innovation you are looking for versus sabotaging it. Use the technique of calm frankness when expressing disappointment (and appreciation) and explain the areas of improvement required. Augment this approach by asking for their input too – they may be able to see things about the mistake that you aren’t looking at that can prove beneficial. If you are looking for more resources that can help with this, you might want to follow this article up with a quick message over to me asking about our half day ‘Open Experimentation And Handling Failure Workshop’.

Step 3

What Is The Culture Of Ideation? Create space for new ideas (even the crazy ones).

Passion Health™ can spark new ways of thinking and innovative problem solving. Provide any challenge within the larger context of support. Consider how your culture handles ideation. Do you only want ideas brought to the table after they have been thoroughly tested, or are you more open to the out of the box, creative solutioning at the early stage of idea generation where things are still forming? The approach is not the problem, but making it clear how you want ideas presented helps create clarity and structure so everyone knows the expectation before bringing it to the desk. Also note – tough questions are great, but support goes further. Sometimes we get into ego and it’s about ‘powering up’ an idea rather than allowing the person with the idea to foster their own innovative thinking and mindset. If you are looking for more resources that can help with this, you might want to follow this article up with a quick message over to me asking about our 2 day ‘Creating A Culture Of Ideation And Growth Workshop’.

Step 4

What Does Conflict Look Like In The Team? Embrace productive conflict and clear resolution policy.

Passion Healthy cultures can feel strongly about certain ideas and directions. And not all will be agreed with. Promote sincere dialogue and constructive debate, and then build skills on how to work and resolve conflicts openly and quickly. By establishing open dialogue and training on productive conflict and clear resolution strategies will support the efforts of what ideas move forward. The strategy of ‘micro-dosing change’ by establishing the initial ground rules and setting clear expectations will also be in support of all efforts provided in the above 4 steps. You can start by discussing the following with your team:

  • What are the results or end goal of the project, initiative or mission?
  • What are the norms, or best practices, around first listening to, and then managing conflicting ideas or perspectives?
  • What are the general guidelines for bringing up concerns about a process, workflow or idea that isn’t working? When do you decide something isn’t working? What is the expectation around timelines for resolution and who is responsible?
  • How do you measure the success of a process?

Different perspectives will always happen when groups of people form. How you account for it, create clarity around it, and model structures to support it will go further than reacting to it. Passion is personal, humans are personal, everything is personal. Pretending it isn’t so generally does more harm than good for the productive resolution of anything in our businesses. If you are looking for more resources that can help with conflict resolution in your organization, you might want to follow this article up with a quick message over to me asking about our ‘Conflict Resolution Coaching Resources’.


Supporting an environment that can handle rapid change, overnight challenges and disruption in a more synchronized way, are the environments that will succeed beyond the 21st Century. Being more equipped with how to support team dynamics and engineering higher levels of social intelligence is the big way forward. Passion Health™ is a new look at how to increase our social intelligence and build tools and processes that engineer higher functioning team and social dynamics.

Humans tend to believe there are more to problem solving than what we already have access to internally – so we turn to external Gods that we think will save us (think tech, ai, etc). The thing is though, as boring as it all sounds, there is much evidence that supports that nothing external will save us from ourselves – but, our selves.

It’s time for us to better understand how we work, individually and collectively, and take that knowledge and start applying it so we can build that better future that we all want to be a part of.

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