Five Passion-Busters Every Leader Must Face


If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it with much conviction or passion. – Mia Hamm

Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to conquer Mt. Everest. When asked by an interviewer about his passions for climbing mountains he replied, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” This is both the challenge and the reward for all leaders. It’s as we conquer ourselves that we are then able to conquer the challenges that are before us.

Passion is your life-blood as a leader. It’s what keeps you up late at night and gets you up early in the morning. It’s the fuel for your motivation and is the heartbeat of your purpose. But what happens when your passions begin to wane?

A recent survey reported on by ABC News ( would suggest that many American workers feel overwhelmed and dream of a new job. The survey was conducted by the Families and Work Institute. They phone surveyed 1,003 U.S. adult workers. They report that 28 percent often or very often felt overworked. The same amount reported feeling overwhelmed by their jobs or very often, and 29 percent said they often felt they had no time to reflect on their work. It also revealed that 70 percent say they often dream of having a different job.

When these types of sentiments are commonplace in our work environments then the key ingredient of passion is rapidly becoming a rare commodity. Employers as well as employees need to be mindful of some of the warning signs before they take root and claim another victim. So what are some of the warning signs? There are many. Here are five for your consideration.

Uncharacteristic boredom

I am not talking about the run-of-the-mill boredom that high achievers are prone to experience or even that of some slackers. In this category would be those who once were all in but for whatever reason are now disengaged. The spark and creativity is gone. A disconnect has occurred.  Perhaps the sense of accomplishment has passed and a new challenge is in order. Boredom will drain you of your passion so be sure not to let it linger for long.

Ambivalent attitude

When passion is declining and boredom has taken over then ambivalence will soon follow. If uncertainty or fluctuation in a team member’s level of commitment or enthusiasm exists then you best pay attention. Ambivalence is a red flag indicator and if left unchallenged it can be a negative force that can easily spread. In the case of ambivalence the energy source changes from a positive to a negative. If this is occurring then chances are passions are running low. Key here is to drill down and find out why.

Overly critical

You need positive passionate people on your team. A warning sign of decreased passion is when it changes from being constructive to being destructive. When what was once constructive criticism now becomes malicious then that is a sure sign that passion has eroded. This type of temperament within your organization must be contained. Passion that is channeled in the right direction can give your organization unprecedented opportunities but overly critical team members can kill its momentum.

Reduction of quality work

If a team member is bored, ambivalent, and overly critical then it will soon be reflected in their work. Your work is a reflection of your passion. When your passions are high and your morale is good then your performance will reflect it. Pay attention to subtle changes in these areas for warning signs that could indicate there are passion issues. If dealt with early it can stave off larger problems down the road.

Consistently unhappy

If any combination of the above signs is part of the mix for you or your team members then it would not be much of a stretch to conclude that there is a consistent level of unhappiness involved. It could be the result of conclusions expressed in the survey – being overworked, overwhelmed, stressed out – all factors that lead to varying degrees of diminished passion.

What’s important is to remove the stigma of diminished passions, recognize it for what it is, and then go to work on correcting it. Your passions are your greatest assets so protect them at all costs. Take time to recharge, refresh, and then re-enter with renewed passion.

What do you say?


© 2014 Doug Dickerson

I welcome your feedback:

1. Which signs did you most identify with?

2. What are some immediate corrective actions you can take?

3. What are some on-going preventive things you can to keep from falling victim to a lack of passion?


About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandson Tyson. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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