Why Great Leaders Must Have Passion

Let’s do a thought experiment. If you can, reach way back deep inside your most distant memories to the time when you were in school. Take your time. If you need to go dig out the old yearbook, that’s okay; I’ll wait.

Now, who was the best teacher you ever had? From which teacher did you most enjoy learning? Who most inspired you–personally or professionally? Chances are, there’s a teacher popping into your head already. You probably don’t even need to think about it.

How about this: who is the worst teacher you ever had? From which teacher did you learn the least? Which teacher did you find the least inspiring? You probably have a fairly clear picture of this teacher as well.

What separates these two teachers? It’s probably not the subject. I’ve met people whose most favorite teachers taught chemistry and whose least favorite teachers taught art. A “boring” subject does not necessarily imply a boring teacher.

So, what is it that separates the most inspiring teachers from the least inspiring teachers. My guess is that it’s one thing: passion. Those teachers and mentors who leave the most lasting effect on us are probably those who were most passionate about what they did. Passion seems to stick with us.

In a famous study conducted by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, a sample of 1,400 successful ad campaigns were analyzed based on their methods of persuasion. The IPA wanted to see if it could determine whether appeals to reason or appeals to emotion were more effective. And what do you suppose they found?

Of the 1,400 campaigns, 16% relied strictly on rational appeals. That is, the ads gave viewers logical reasons to buy the products–the basic features and benefits spiel. And what about the emotional appeal? 31% of the ads relied strictly on emotional appeals–twice the amount of those that attempted to persuade with logic. Based on this fairly large data set, then, we are twice as likely to be persuaded by emotion than we are by reason.

To most of us, the results of this analysis probably aren’t all that surprising. We know that the heartstrings are the key to the purse strings. We know we buy stuff that makes us feel good. But that’s not just why we buy stuff; it’s also why we buy ideas.

For leaders, passion is everything. If you aren’t passionate about your work and your organization, you are not going to convince your team to do the work they need to do. Sure, you can give them a logical argument: do “x” and you get a raise, but do “y” and you get fired. But that’s not nearly as likely to motivate them as appealing to their sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in the work–that is, appealing to their emotions.

Passion persuades. If you are a passionate leader, that passion will translate to your team. If your employees feel passionate about their work, that passion will in turn translate to your customers. And it all starts with you. A leader without passion is a leader without effect. Want to be effective? Then, be a passionate leader. It makes all the difference.

About The Author


David Lykken has garnered a national reputation as a visionary, entrepreneur and business leader within the mortgage industry. He has also become a regular guest on the FOX Business News with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney, Liz Claman, Dave Asman and others. He has been a special guest of Governor Mike Huckabee on FOX News’ #1 weekend rated program “Huckabee”. He has appeared several times on the CBS Evening News, Bloomberg TV & radio, NPR and many radio shows. On matters related to the economy, housing and mortgage lending, David is frequently quoted in leading newspapers across the country as well as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. Additionally, David has his own national weekly radio program called “Lykken On Lending” that can be heard each Monday at Noon Central time by going to www.LykkenOnLending.com .

As co-founder and Managing Partner of KLS Consulting doing business as Mortgage Banking Solutions, David Lykken has over 37 years of management experience as an owner/operator with in depth expertise in real estate finance and housing. His knowledge and skills comprise a unique blend of technology and business strategy. Above all else, David loves helping business owners and executives navigate through extremely difficult business circumstances helping them overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles while rediscovering themselves and their passion for life and living.

Dave is married, has two daughters and currently resides in the beautiful Hill Country of Central Texas near Austin, Texas. David received a bachelor’s degree in 1973 year from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.