As a Leader, is it Passion or Paycheck?

My experiences have taught me that you can teach skill sets but it is very difficult teach attitude. I think a similar philosophy applies to leadership. In today’s world, people can sense when leaders are genuine, authentic, and transparent. And they can sniff out if the leader they work for took the job for the paycheck, not their passion.

I recall observing a new CEO meeting with a group of employees for the first time. When it came time for questions and answers, one of the employees asked if the new CEO would consider letting certain employees work from home a day or so a week. The CEO’s response was an emphatic NO.  While that’s certainly his prerogative as the leader of that company, the concern I had with that new CEO is that he worked from home two days per week; in fact, he lived in another city.  

Over time, I witnessed a decline in respect the employees had towards the CEO. They were able to recognize that the CEO wasn’t there because he was passionate about the industry. He wasn’t passionate about his team or passionate about leading his team. The team saw the CEO arrive late Monday or early Tuesday and depart on Thursday. From their perspective, he wasn’t committed to the team, the company or to his job. He was committed to the paycheck. 

I have a saying: First you lead yourself; then you lead by example; eventually others will follow."

The lesson I learned from the experience is that whatever you do as a leader, you should expect the same from your team. For example, if you coach your children’s sports teams and it causes you to leave an hour earlier during the week, you should grant your employees the opportunity to do the same.  I have a saying: First you lead yourself; then you lead by example; eventually others will follow. If you work for the paycheck, don’t be surprised if your team decides to work for the paycheck as well. After all, they are following your example. However, if you are passionate about your work, your teams will recognize your authenticity, which will lead to employees who are more loyal, have a higher level of morale, and are willing to go the extra mile for the company. 

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