The First Line Manager: You Have Got to Have Passion About Our Business

A President of a major electric utility summarized his executive team meeting with the following statement. He stated, “You have got to be excited about what we do, you got to feel that. You have got to have passion for what you do everyday” He went into a long explanation of why they should feel this. I thought how strange for a President of a company to tell his executive officers they must get excited and passionate about their business. How did these managers reach the top of his corporation without being excited? I know. I work for an electric utility. Passion and excitement about what we do is not a visible trait in the management. I see this lack of excitement. Because I see this, I sent him the following email.

“I listened to your talk about passion several times over the last couple of weeks. Passion is Innate. I succeeded in several businesses before I came to work at a utility. I quit these businesses because I never had, or I lost, my passion for the business. Now, close to retirement, my biggest problem is how I will replace my Passion for what I do with something else.

Here are some of my thoughts about passion. You cannot train or talk someone into having passion about a business. Are managers in your company comfortable displaying their passion to employees? Do your managers lack passion for your business because they are more concerned with their careers? Are your managers comfortable around employees that display passion? How do you channel passion? Do you promote passionate employees; or, is it even considered in the hiring process.

Passion is so personal and so important to a company’s success.” End of email.

I did not get a response to my email.

So here are my thoughts on the questions I ask this president. Passion is so personal and innate to people; some people are just not passionate. When you select and promote people without innate passion, you cannot demand it from them. If you want passionate employees hire and promote them. If you hire passionate employees and their managers are not passionate, do not expect the new employees to stay. Passionate employees are a problem if this passion is not channeled for the good of the company. Managers must now how to do this. If you do not promote passionate employees; do you really want passionate managers? Passion is why I stayed where I am for over thirty years.

Here is how I know I am passionate about what I do. Emily and I came back from a vacation a year ago. I drove over three hundred miles to get home on a stormy Sunday night at 6:00 pm. We got into bed at 8:00pm. My boss called me about 9:00pm. He said, “Jim, I need your help. We do not have enough dispatchers.” I got up and dressed. I stood at the foot of the bed and told Emily, “I do not know how much longer I can to this, I am so tired.” I worked with an operator as a dispatcher, not a manager, actually in the trench dispatching trouble and getting customer’s power back on. When I got back home on Monday around 10:00 am, I was not tired. Why? I knew how important what I was doing for my company and for our customers. This is my passion.

I think passionate people feel like I do. What we do is important to us. We are mission driven. We direct ourselves. No one has to tell us to be excited or passionate about our business; certainly, not our manager. Our passion comes from our spirit.

A company that wants passionate managers must hire or promote them. Then stand back and watch the company become the best.

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About OJ

I am a retired first line manager with over 40 years of experience. In operations management, accounting management, and central operations management. It is my wish to convey some of the experiences I have learned form over the years in the articles on my site.
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