Passion at the Workplace-Hug and Nudge

Sometimes a warm hug is the answer to our question and sometimes a gentle nudge is the answer.

'Hug and Nudge' is a fortnightly column with two different perspectives from two different continents and cultures on the same question in personal development area viz. 

Jennifer Sertl (based in New York, USA) and

Dr Amit Nagpal (based in New Delhi, India).

Question- "Passion is generally missing in the corporate world. What can leaders do to ensure employees love what they do and do what they love.”

A great question by Nitin Uppal, Asst. Manager-Marketing, Mahindra Comviva

Jennifer Sertl's Answer

Before I founded Agility 3R, I worked for two large corporations - one in telecommunications and the other in healthcare. I have been in systems where root-cause and corollary have many, many layers. I have been in systems where goals and objectives between teams were in direct conflict and competing for the same resources. I have had golden handcuffs upon me where the money and status were seductive and made me think I didn’t have a choice but to “be stronger and survive.” I just want you to know I have “been there.”

The whole “passion” in the workplace - is not a new conversation invented by Zappos. I remember the wonderful work of Fred Reichheld in 1996 when he wrote 'The Loyalty Effect'. The data has been there all along. Engagement = profitability. So “passion in the workplace” is not a noble idea, it is an economic mandate. 

Organizations are complex and tackling the passion question is not a matter of free will or being a charismatic leader. I like the way Triarchy Press author William Tate states in “Stop polishing the fish and tackle the water they swim in!” 

I just want you to have perspective that you alone as a leader - no matter how talented, exuberant, and passionate yourself,  cannot create a culture of engagement alone. Either your environment honors human capital and makes designed investments in training, development and employee feedback or it does not. If it does not --; get out as soon as you can. Hope and TEDTalks cannot fix flawed internal designs.

What is in your control is your awareness and your choices. You- as a leader can choose to only work in environments where you feel alive and engaged. You cannot give away what you do not have. So if you want to foster an environment of vitality - you must do all in your sphere of influence to ensure that you feel internally alive.

You may want some help with an internal inventory. Here are some valuable questions I learned from the Gallup, Inc. organization that are spot on: 

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?

12. At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow.

To the degree that you can, ensure that you have positive answers for these types of questions. As you feel a sense of belonging, you are in a better position to foster positive experiences for others. 

It is also important for you to know what your personal “hedge hog” is. If you remember from Jim Collin’s Good to Great the “hedge hog” is the epicenter of what you are passionate about, what you can be the best at, and what you can get paid to deliver. The eye of the needle for passion is clarity on self-esteem. Introspection is the rub. 

With so many options between full time employment and the rise of freelance nation  the issue of passion is a matter of trade-offs and choices. You may ask these questions and find alignment between the organization you are working for and your own sense of self-worth. You may find that there are things you can do to foster more alignment. You may find that the questions become unsettling and require an inventory of current choices and the trade-offs being made. When you do the inventory, you don’t have to make changes - you just have to make sure you are not in denial and that the trade-offs are conscious, not unconscious. What is your life worth? 

Just in case it is not clear, the two points I most want you to get are the following:

1) You cannot give away what you do not have.

2) Passion is a matter of choice and priorities.

After all, everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you ♫  ♫

In the meanwhile, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive~ Howard Thurman”

Onward . . .


Brief Profile

Beacon of hope. Purveyor of discipline.
Global Citizen. Transleader.
Coach. Facilitator.
Co-Author- Strategy, Leadership & the Soul and Founder of Agility3R.

Watch on Youtube


Dr Amit Nagpal's Answer

Passion, in fact deepest passion is one of my favourite topics. To structure my answer, I have divided my post in two parts viz. :-

1) Why is Passion missing at the workplace?
2) How to bring passion at the workplace?

Why Passion is missing at the workplace?

There are many reasons why passion is missing at the workplace, some of which have been enumerated below:-

1) Organisation lacking clarity- Employees often become square pegs in round holes as they are placed in wrong functions or departments for various reasons relating to role identification and placement.

2) Employees lacking clarity-Often employees are not clear what they are best at and they are placed in a function solely based on their qualification. There is also a possibility that the employee has obtained a qualification which does not match his/her personality, due to social pressures.

3) Mismatch between requirements and available manpower-This is a difficult problem. Let’s take an example. The organisation recruits 5 trainees in HR, out of which 4 are interested in (passionate about) training function while organisation needs only 1 in training function and 4 in routine HR (personnel & administration).

How to bring passion at the workplace?

1) Put square pegs in square holes-As far as practically possible, the right employees should be placed in the right functions. Here is an interesting presentation on “7 Simple Steps to Discover Deepest Passion”. This solves problems 1 and 2 above. Employee passion and interest may change also over a period of time (as human beings we continue to evolve) and re-assessment may be done on yearly basis.

2) Compromise formula-To solve problem 3 above, the organisation may allot the function as per its needs but at the same time, a part of the work profile assigned (ranging from 25 -50 %) can relate to employee interest and passion. This becomes a compromise and still a win-win situation for the employee and the employer.

3) Passion Time-Google allows its engineers to dedicate 20 % time (known as 80/20 rule) on projects based on their interest and passion. In other words, Googlers dedicate 80 percent of time to their primary job and 20 percent working on passion projects that they believe will help the company. Great products like G-Mail have been created during this 20 % time. This idea is surely worth adopting.

If the organisation wants to be a thought leader and create great products, then employees need to be working in the area of deep passion (so that they can bring out their inner greatness) as far as possible. 

Else, we can continue with the average products and the average performance of employees, and at the end of the day we will continue to be an average organization too.
Brief Profile
Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant and Mega Success Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, "Enlarge as a Human Being, Excel as a Social Media Being and Evolve as a Personal Brand"

To know more about Dr Nagpal, visit

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