#10/10 Copious, Continuous, Infectious Passion - Crucial Survival Skills for the 21st Century CIO -

This is the last article in the series of 10 Crucial Survival Skills for the 21st Century CIO. If you haven't read the earlier postings, start your journey here.

street musician
Photo: (c) Maarten Jan Bos  - Flikr.com

Perhaps this should have been the first posting in this series.

Leadership without passion is not leadership.

It is mechanical. It can be efficient but it will never, ever embolden a team to do great things.

People follow a leader because they choose to, not because they have to.

One of the greatest skills any leader can demonstrate is a deep, genuine passion for achieving great things by empowering the people around him or her.

I've mentioned before that I play guitar. I've been playing a long time and have had the privilege of playing with some very talented musicians.  The most talented people I have played music with, share one common trait - an unbridled, copious, continuous, infectious passion for creating music.

They would seek out opportunities to play - even if no one was there to listen. They just had to do it.

Like the street musician in the photo.

It's obviously cold outside (note the gloves), but look at the smile on his face.

I can identify.  In my earlier days I can remember my bandmates and I loading a ton of sound equipment into our cars, driving for over an hour, setting up the gear, just for the opportunity to play a few songs.  We then had to disassemble the equipment, pack it up and drive home.  This didn't count the hours of practice needed to prepare.

Either we were nuts. Or we were passionate about what we did.

I love hanging around with passionate musicians. They make me want to be a better musician.

They believe the world is a better place because of music. They help me believe it too.

Their passion is infectious. Time spent with them causes me to grow.

Do people grow around you when you express your passion?

Copious, Continuous, Infectious Passion

I'm not talking about passion as in "I'm passionate about technology."  Technology quickly becomes obsolete and will let you down.  It is a very shallow thing to waste your passions on.

Passion isn't about wanting things better for yourself.  In most cases exercising your passion involves personal sacrifice and personal cost.

Passion isn't derailed by setbacks or obstacles.  Just like the fox trying to get into the hen house, you are positive that there is a way in, you just have to keep trying until you find it.

In IT leadership, you really have to believe that your organization, your industry, and even the world will be a different, better place if your team can do what it is good at. Your passion should be about creating the environment where your team can thrive in order to help your organization thrive.

It's about achieving things that haven't been done before.

It's about believing that persistence and tenacity will pay off.

It's about working hard.

It's about empowering your team to excel.

It's about continuously leading, encouraging and talking about achieving your goals.

It's about sacrificing the things that detract from achieving your goals.  (Note: I am NOT talking about relationships or family!  I am talking about things like television & wasting time on non-important activities.)

Every IT leader needs to sit down and take stock, and ask themselves the question "Why do I REALLY want to lead an IT team?" and be very honest with their answers.

If your answers have anything to do with money, power, or personal gain, we have a lot of talking to do.

People choose to follow passionate leaders.

People like to grow.  Are you helping them?

There is much, much more to say about this... but I'll end here.

Copious, continuous, infectious passion in practice looks like this:

  • You clearly know why you are in your role - the real reason.  Those around you know it too because they have heard you articulate it.
  • You inherently believe that there is always a way to achieve your objectives despite opposition and setbacks. You may have to adjust your timeline, but you keep your goals in mind.
  • You connect with others who have a similar passion to keep your batteries charged.
  • You are willing to sacrifice personal time and resources to achieve your goals.
  • Your passions are aligned to a greater purpose, not personal gain. It's about your team, your organization and your industry.
  • You look for every opportunity to share your passion - in person or online.  People know what you are about.

As for me, my reason for being in this role is this:
I strongly believe that our current educational system was designed for another time, and if our children are to survive and thrive in a globally competitive world they need skills and competencies that we do not currently teach.  
I believe that technology can enable and empower the development of crucial skills in our kids, but it is much more than giving each child a computer or iPad.. it's about understanding the outcomes we want to achieve, then changing the delivery of education and leveraging technology to achieve those outcomes. 
I believe that if you hire smart people, treat them like professionals and empower them, that they can achieve magnificent results.  I believe that every institution needs a team of IT professionals to be able to achieve the changes needed to thrive in this world.

That's why I'm a CIO.  I'm out to join with others who share this passion and change the world as we know it.

How about you?  How would you describe your passion?

So... that's the end of this series.

I've presented one competency per posting over the last while, and will be compiling them into one big, long post when complete. There is obviously a lot more to say about each of the competencies, and there are probably a few I've missed.  Consider this a work in progress as I continue to unpack these ideas in future posts.

Here is the list of all 10 competencies with links.


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