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                          You can’t mandate what matters


Kim’s earlier blog entry makes the link between the internal origin of passion and its subsequent manifestation in the world.  She points out that the root of passion lies within each of us, that unique gift, talent or disposition we can bring to the world.

How then might that principle apply in the workplace?  If successful organizations rely on the innovation and creativity that employees with passion bring to their work, what conditions help or hinder the release and growth of this productive energy?

As Dan Pink writes (Drive) and talks about (http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html), leaders need to make sure they align their methods with their desired effect. Yes, there still are traditional jobs where the outcomes are controllable and measurable (e.g. assembly lines or most tightly-coupled organizations with uniform outcomes) and where the carrots and sticks approach to motivation may apply. But rewards and punishment are counter-productive when leaders want to bring out the creative energies of employees.  Passion is ignited, not instructed.

What then do employees need at work for their creativity to flow and their passion to emerge? First and foremost they need to feel safe and appreciated.  They need to know that there will be space, time and support for their ideas to surface and flourish.  Central to that sense of safety and support is knowing that their wages are reliable and not tied to any single project. Employees need space to take creative risks without fear of financial penalty.  They need to know that they are considered to be intrinsically valuable.

Leaders can’t mandate what matters when it comes to innovation and creativity, but they can certainly create the conditions for these energies to emerge from the individual and collective passions of employees.