Passion is an over used word in local government especially in job interviews. Candidates for management posts are always "passionate" about the service, passionate about empowering staff/ citizens, passionate about choice, passionate about quality, passionate about equality but mostly just passionate. But do you need to be so passionate, is it enough to be a competent professional ? Must a manager be passionate to be thought of as a leader? Is passion a prerequisite for successful leadership? And can you tell if they are faking it?
In the current austerity climate where managers are required to reduce services, restrict choice impose change, rebalance quality and cost, "passion " is measured by the energy and enthusiasm demonstrate for the change agenda, the transformation process, the restructuring. In short your perceived commitment to the cause.a
How can a senior manager be passionate about in house services and with a change of political leadership be passionate about outsourcing services?
Leaders respond to challenges. Whatever the challenge they can get energised and enthusiastic about meeting it, whats more they can get others energised and enthusiastic.
If your unconvinced about the benefits of the new structure, if you don 't believe the efficiency savings can be achieved, if you don't think the time scales are realist why should those tasked with delivering it? The demonstration of passion is an essential prerequisite for leadership so if your not feeling it fake it.
Managers can become cynical about polices which seem to be more concerned with political ideology than consumer interest, changes which seem to be finance driven rather that practise led but if they are professional they will try hard to make it work.
The difference between managers and effective leaders is managers don't always own the agenda they say things like " the board has decided", "the senior management team wants this done" or " the chief executive expects". Leaders always make it personal, "I am committed to this", "I believe we can do it", "I believe we can make this work" , some say do it for me ,some say do it because it is the right thing to do and some say just do it but all our convincing in that it can and will be done.
Senior managers are expected to have leadership qualities to be able to explain what the future will look like and how "we" will get there. In private they may share the cynicism of their staff but they are required to be optimistic, enthusiastic and "passionate" so if they don't feel it they fake it. If they're any good then like in that famous restaurant scene from When Harry met Sally you'll never know.