Lessons in Leadership: Passion (an excerpt from Dr. Bandelli’s Book, What Every Leader Needs)

Ivan was born with a fire in the belly. Of Spanish descent, he moved to the United States at the age of eleven. He knew little about American culture at the time, but was inspired by the American Dream and all it could mean for his future. He tirelessly worked his way up through high school and college before moving into the healthcare industry. Labeled as a high potential early in his career, Ivan thrived under pressure and competition. He loved the thrill of the sale and building a new customer base. As a natural people person, he was quick to establish rapport with others and build strong, sustainable relationships. People also valued his honesty and integrity. Ivan did not cut corners, nor did he take shortcuts to get to his desired outcomes. He put in the hard work and effort, tireless effort at times, to make things happen. Through his diligence and determination, he moved from sales rep to manager, from manager to regional leader, from regional leader to director, and from director to vice president.

I met Ivan about ten years into his career as he was looking to make a job transition from a larger healthcare provider to a smaller company. From the instant we met we had strong rapport. We are both fans of the Miami Heat, so there was a lot to talk about, especially during the Lebron James and Dwayne Wade era. I assessed Ivan for a Vice President role overseeing the Southern Europe region. Through out the executive assessment interview his drive, high energy, and passion resonated with me tremendously. Within five minutes of sitting with Ivan any one could tell how motivated and inspired he was to succeed. He was determined to make his life and career all about accomplishment. I thought he would be a great fit for the role and the organization. I made my recommendation to the hiring leader and suggested on-boarding coaching.

Ivan was offered the role, and shortly thereafter, I began his executive integration coaching. We ended up working together for a year and a half, and I can honestly say I have never seen another executive with more passion and drive than Ivan. We sometimes joked that he never slept! He would always be on a plane heading to one of the nine countries under his leadership. He would do whatever was necessary to win. This resonated with his people. They were excited about the prospects for the future and quickly followed his lead.

My most memorable experience with Ivan was when he invited me to present at his annual all employee sales meeting in Monte Carlo. I watched as he gave a rousing speech to over 1,000 employees. As he outlined their goals and objectives for the year, while celebrating the things they had achieved the year before, you could tell all of these employees were committed to the overarching mission and vision for Southern Europe. Ivan rallied his troops behind a compelling and inspiring future state. As any organization would, they had challenges along the way, but Ivan never gave up that passion and intensity. He believed in his heart of hearts that they could do better and be better. He pushed his team to strive for excellence.

Today, Ivan is President of the European business. He has hopes and dreams of becoming a CEO one day. I see this in his future. His passion, energy, enthusiasm, and desire to win is contagious. Pair this with his intellectual horsepower, strategic capabilities, and focus on execution, and its no wonder he has become a success story. Ivan understood the importance of bringing passion to leadership. Without it, people lack commitment and the fortitude to succeed. He leveraged this competency to build buy-in, focus, and commitment from his team and the broader organization. I am delighted to have coached him during his early tenure, and see him accomplish his goals and objectives. The future is bright for Ivan. Passion is the key ingredient that helped him accomplish his dreams.

For more information on Dr. Bandelli’s book, What Every Leader Needs, contact Bandelli & Associates at abandelli@bandelliassociates.com.

Leadership Matters. Without It, People Fail.