I live in Austin, Texas, a city with more than its fair share of entrepreneurs.
And while entrepreneurs are most often known as innovators, I think they share another important quality: PASSION.
Some are passionate about creating a breakthrough product or service that solves a problem for businesses or the planet. Others are passionate about building a unique corporate culture.
It takes more than passion to create a great company, of course. But passion is what drives these entrepreneurs to start a company in the first place, and it’s what keeps them going through the inevitable rough stretches startups experience.
The very best entrepreneurial CEOs know how to use their own passion to create a sense of mission. They know how to communicate their passion to employees and to hire people who share that passion with their customers.
Steve Jobs, regarded as the greatest CEO of our time, was notoriously passionate about absolute perfection in Apple’s products. He challenged employees to create “insanely great” products. (How’s that for a terrific mission statement?)
Jobs drove employees nuts because he got involved in every detail of product development. He would sometimes make major changes at the last minute, because he had concluded that something wasn’t perfect enough.
Jobs was a genius, so he could get away with that obsessiveness. I’m not recommending anyone copy his leadership style.
But would Apple be the company it is today, worth almost $600 billion, if its CEO had not been so fiercely passionate about perfection?
Originally published in Texas CEO Magazine, May/June 2012.