Sunday, August 1


Everyone probably heard at one moment in their childhood the phrase, "don't play with fire, you'll get hurt." There was something exciting and thrilling about seeing that spark ignite. The flame arose in vibrant colors. But someone older was always responsible for handling that flame. It took responsibility.

From time to time, leaders will encounter employees who are very similar to fire. You will be able to see the fire in their eyes. A burning passion to lead, succeed, and light the way for others.  And just like you were told when you were younger, "don't play with fire, you'll get hurt." But this is every leaders dream or is it?

I had the privilege to have met several wonderful employees just like this one. Jada came directly to mind when I started writing. She was very passionate, excited, and ready for all that her career would allow. She was dedicated to herself, her peers, and her progress. She was on fire. But without the proper leadership, she would either ignite a spark so bright that people around her would catch on, or she would burn out leaving myself thinking if I could handle this responsibility.

Her journey towards leadership positions and career success is like many others you have encountered. Here are 3 ways for you to look in at what made this relationship successful.

1. Inspiration excites, encouragement ignites. I encouraged her to reach for whatever dream it was. She would be the person to determine her success. Encouraging and mentoring was my contribution.

2. Leave enough room. Her journey was about self-discovery. She had to learn how to make decisions, to fail, to grow, and to be leader. And I had to let her grow. Did she become better than me? Absolutely. And it was my pleasure.

3. One is the loneliest number. One match will eventually burn out. One person left alone will burn out, too. The progress to keep the fire burning was about networking and mentoring. There were several occasions in which we both would meet other leaders. It was my honor and responsibility to introduce and encourage her to experience other techniques, other insights into development. To keep her isolated would only let the spark burn out slow. This allowed that spark to catch, to continue inside of her and to spread that passion to others.

Are you developing your bench strength? Can you handle the responsibility to encourage excitement and keep that passion alive? Playing with fire takes responsibility.

What have you done to help create passion in your employees? What techniques do you use to mentor employees? Post your comments and thoughts here.


  1. How can a leader ignite passion in their employees? At least three things come to mind:

    1) Be passionate yourself - it's infectious!
    2) Have a clearly defined and meaningful mission
    3) Acknowledge and have an authentic appreciation for and each person's unique contributions

    Thanks for the thought provoking post Brock!

  2. Rick,

    I am sure that leaders can benefit from all 3 concepts. Authenticity is missing from so many relationships that once the "real self" is discovered, it is hard for an employee to trust their leader. Great ideas!