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Napoleon

Let me attempt a positive twist to Napoleon’s “all’s fair in love and war” as applied to the world of business. Let me first propose that Napoleon’s insightful correlation can be extended to business in the first place. Love, war and business all have in common the competitive side of human nature – for the sake of procreation in the first case, and for survival in the other two. In all cases things have a high likelihood of becoming (very) personal, and when things get personal emotions usually flare.

Napoleon’s insight alludes to unhealthy levels of emotion but in the case of business, a healthy amount of passion can be very hard to compete against. If an enterprise’s leadership manages to instill passion, the notion of conditionality (i.e. “I will only do this if they pay me that” or “why should I do this when John Doe doesn’t do that”) loses steam, and paraphrasing Kennedy, employees ask what they can do for the enterprise rather than what’s in it for them.

Thinking about a problem no longer starts and stops at the enterprise’s doorstep in the morning and afternoon, initiative abounds driving innovation, and profit becomes a consequence rather than the objective. The need to control compliance also diminishes, driving trust and positive morale. To be treated like true partners, mature and responsible adults, not kindergartners requiring adult supervision – isn’t this what we all want and we all deserve?

So this brings me to leadership: why can’t it be defined simply as the “art of instilling passion in others”? There might be some creativity required to design a compelling vision and message, and lots of so called “people skills”, but not much else. Everything else, including the latest and greatest concepts in organizational development like self-organizing teams, could be derived from passion it seems to me. What am I missing and why are there so many mind twisting models and theories on organizational development?

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