Passion Powers, and Empowers, Leaders

Passion Powers People

Late last year Dr. Jeffrey Magee, a leading “leadership and marketing strategist” asked me to contribute an article to his publication, Professional Performance Magazine.

I had recently been talking with some people about the changes in the industry and what was driving the rate of acquisitions over the past few years. This inspired the below article.

And remember, most distributors started with passionate people. Founders who saw an opportunity to deliver a needed service. Who saw an opportunity to support their family. Who were entrepreneurs. Who saw business ownership, and serving others, as a path to financial security. Who aspired for “better.”

Passion Powers, and Empowers, Leaders

The US economy is undergoing generational change. I’m not talking about the workforce or Generation X, Z or something else. I’m talking about ownership and management change.

I’m talking about a mentality.

There are two things that differentiate managers from management. They are passion and vision.

Managers focus on implementation, process improvement and “moving the ball forward.”

Management, on the other hand, is invested in the business. They lead the business. They have a passion for it and a vision of how they feel the business, or their sphere of influence, can affect people’s lives. They are believers.

And here’s the difference.

Generational Change … in Ownership

Many HVACR distributors over the past few years have been sold to either national chains or have taken the private equity route. The PE route is enabling some to achieve a vision, some to “get a second bite at the apple” as they sell but stay involved, and others as an exit strategy.

Why did they sell? Some say it is because of the need / cost of investing in technology to remain competitive. I say differently as each of them, if they chose, could make the financial investment. The reason they sold is the lack of a passionate “next generation” that was involved in the business. Without that “someone” who wants to run the business, a business becomes a disposable asset.

Generational Change … in Management Talent

The same is occurring within companies. If you hire people, how many resumes have you seen where an individual has had many “short” tenures? We’ve all seen more of these nowadays than ever before. It begs the question, “are these individual’s viable managers or are they management material?” Did they invest enough time to understand the culture, to gain an appreciation of the business, or generate a desire for the business to succeed? Did they understand the offering? The industry? The people? Did they conduct research and develop a vision to help take the company, or their department, to “the next level”? And yes, there are times where it isn’t the right fit.

If people consider their roles transactional and are focused on today’s payday, then, while important to the success of the business, they become transactional. Will the business miss them?

What’s missing? Passion and vision.

What creates passion?

As a manager you can build passion for your leadership and with your staff by being a strong communicator, connecting with associates and helping them deliver for customers and the company, however …

Becoming passionate about the business involves understanding the product offering, the industry, the customers and understanding multiple aspects of the business. It is about immersing yourself into the essence of the business so, when you’re driving home, you see something not tied to the business and think of an idea for the business. It becomes part of your subconscious and you’re intuitively thinking about opportunities and how to improve the business / your sphere within the business.

And, at the same time, you have “bought in” to the culture and actively strive to strengthen it.

To a degree, passion is inherent. The question to ask is “what are you passionate about?

As an owner, you embrace it. If you are not an owner and the culture “turns”, your passion dissipates.


Vision is different than strategy. Strategy is more systemic-based and is built upon market research, data analytics, market trends, and goal setting. It’s a process.

Vision, on the other hand, is more intuitive but integrates observational elements from the market, customers, competitors, business performance and more but it also integrates a leap of faith that can spring an organization, or department, forward to take significant steps forward.

It’s the ability to observe, envision, espouse, and then “sell” the message to attract others and get them to “buy-in.”

Some of it involves risk taking. Some is based upon experience and a broad frame of reference. Some is confidence.

Passion + Vision = Leadership

The key to being a leader is being passionate about your role within your company or for a cause. This enables you to motivate others.

Your ability to craft, and communicate, a vision provides something that others can rally around and then execute upon.

Combining passion and vision enables individuals to be leaders. This leadership quality is what powers companies to achieve goals and make a difference. More importantly, people rally around leaders and want to work for them.

When there is no passion, no vision, there is no leadership and work becomes … a job.

Find your passion. Infuse it with vision. And lead.


  1. Your thoughts on the article? The topic?
  2. And here’s the hard question … and perhaps some will answer anonymously as I doubt anyone would share their name (so feel free to be anonymous or have a pseudonym), but does your company have passionate people with vision (or even just passionate people in leadership), or does it have good management?
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