The Hedgehog Concept: Passion

Last Saturday, I introduced the idea that leadership is about two key priorities, people and influence.  Effective leadership can happen in any working relationship.  It does not flow from position or title, rather from concern for people and the ability to positively influence them for success. Effective leadership can happen at any level in the enterprise.  In fact, some of the best leadership is likely not coming from “the top,” from those in positions of authority.  It more often comes “from the middle,” from those who effectively influence their peers for good and for success.  They shape and move the enterprise wherever they are  while improving the lot of those around them as a matter of course.

Finding your hedgehog

The concept of the hedgehog concept as a vital component of effective leadership.  Whether at the personal or the organizational level, we function at our best when we are living and leading from our hedgehog, that one big idea that captures our attention and fuels our vision.  A clear and compelling vision, in turn, feeds our passion for succeeding in life and in the enterprise.

To discover your hedgehog, you will look to the intersection between three key drivers, your passion, what you are the very best at doing, and at what can you find your greatest opportunity, be it your greatest economic driver or your greatest impact in the world.  Here are some thoughts on identifying your hedgehog based upon these three drivers, with the focus primarily on your personal hedgehog.

Find your passion

At the personal level, think about what makes you passionate in life and at work. What gets you up in the morning and keeps you working late when everyone else has gone home?  To what do your thoughts continually go when you are alone?  Since my high school days (just after the last ice age), my passion has been about what I sum up as “changing the world.”  Not in a sense of leading a global initiative, but more in a sense of changing the world wherever I am at the time.  My passion is more of a “Mother Theresa” approach than a “presidential candidate” approach.  The words of John Wesley ring true with my passion:

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

This is what drives every area of my life.  It is the big idea for me, the unifying and passionate purpose that gets me moving each morning.

What is your “morning coffee,” the things that gets you up and moving with focus and purpose every day? At the level of your connection to your work or enterprise, what inspires you about the purpose and impact of the enterprise?  Does the vision and mission of the organization align well with your passion and with the passions of your team?

Answering these questions for yourself and your work setting will help you identify the passion part of the hedgehog concept at both levels.  Ask others to tell you where they see you expressing passion and listen with an open mind.  Often, we are unaware of how our passions are expressing themselves, and therefore may not be clear on what passions truly drive us. Listen with courage and curiosity, and do not discount what is said to you.  Truth is the target, not reinforcement.

Spend the week working on this.  Take notes or journal (you are journaling, right?).  Invest time in the hunt.  Next week look for the process for finding what you are the very best at doing, and at what can you find your greatest opportunity.

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