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What your boss wants?

In a recent survey top South African CEOs were asked for three things they most valued and three things they least valued in their employees. 

Passion, boldness and a positive, can-do attitude topped the list of valuable traits.  A strong emotional intelligence and a willingness to work hard were also valued attributes.  Skills and qualifications didn’t feature as positives.  In fact education was seen as a disadvantage when it led to snobbery, cynicism and a reluctance to learn or to change. 

On the negative side, the CEOs pointed to the opposite of passion: a negative, disruptive or poisonous attitude, including a sense of entitlement, a poor work ethic, and an unwillingness to learn.  Whatever your level in the organisation, whatever your job, it’s not your position, qualifications or your skills that matter, but how you use them; it is not the activities you engage in (how busy you are) but the results you achieve.  It’s not the time spent on a report that matters to anyone, but the report itself. 

And passion is the key element.  Lack of passion doesn’t just annoy the CEO, it can lead to stress at work and at home; it can destroy health and relationships.  But passion is not an app for a smartphone, and it can’t be switched on and off.  When you are doing a job you were born for, passion is the most natural source of energy.  But most of the time it has to be nurtured and encouraged.  How?  There are four areas to analyse.

Analyse your attitude.  Are you feeling bored or overwhelmed?  Would being able to change aspects of your job make a difference?  If you were to engage more with your boss and the problems that face the organisation, would you feel more energised and more willing? 

Analyse your activities.  Are you focused on activities, or are you working towards results.  Engage fellow team members and others in the organisation you can work with toward common goals.  Talk to those who receive your reports or the work you do.  Would your work or your reports be more useful if they were prepared or presented differently?

Analyse your co-workers.  Who are the negative, cynical souls to steer clear of?  Who are the people who will encourage you in your achievements?  Spend time with them.  Talk about what they are doing and how they plan their activities and measure their success.

Analyse your career path.  One of the ways to develop passion is to ensure that you are doing what you are passionate about.  Whether or not that is true of your current job, make sure it is true of your next.  And what is next?  Whether “next” means next year or five years’ time, what do you have to do to get there?  Are there skills or qualifications you need to work on now?  Do you need to gain experience?  Are there people you should talk with?  Start planning a second shift that you will fill with these activities.  Now is the time to begin to make your dreams happen.  You will never be more passionate than when you are working towards your own dreams.

(This article was originaly published on the HR Future website)

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.

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