Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. More forceful leaders try to get others to be inspired by what inspires them. More successful leaders figure out what inspires others and then help those people pursue what matters to them in a way that helps all realize a shared purpose. It’s good to support projects that people are passionate about. It’s good to support the people themselves. And it’s good to support projects that are good for your business as well.

Jorge Silva-Risso

Jorge Silva-Risso was the ridiculously brilliant, charming and likeable director of marketing science reporting to me at J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network. He led an amazing team of diverse PhDs from around the world building models of consumer-level response in the automotive industry that created tremendous value. At the same time he was an adjunct professor at UCLA. The combined role allowed him to impact academics, business leaders and consumers.

He asked me to give a presentation at a marketing conference he was helping to organize. But I had a hard time seeing how it would help our business and wasn’t sure it was a good use of my time.

As I’ve written before, happiness is good. Actually, happiness flows from three goods: doing good for others, doing things you’re good at and doing things that are good for you.

For Jorge, playing a leadership role in the marketing science community hit all three goods. The value to our business of encouraging Jorge to pursue his passions was worth far more to him than any monetary compensation we could ever give him.

Did I present at his marketing conference? Of course. And my presentation helped his project, supported him and ended up being good for our business as well.

Sid Lee

Sid Lee is a marketing agency that focuses on transforming consumer experience across all touch points. They work hard to attract and retain multidisciplinary talent, keeping their turnover rate at 17% versus an industry average of 30%. As their U.S. Executive Chairman Will Travis explained,

No matter the day job, we believe everyone benefits from pursuing collaborative creative projects you love. That’s why everyone at Sid Lee gives up to 10% of their time to make passion projects happen.

In line with that, they’ve formed The Sid Lee Collective to help fund, produce and exhibit passion projects of fearless, global artisans. One such project is “Refuge: Creativity for Civil Liberty,” running Saturday, March 25 2017 from noon to 6 p.m. at 201 Mulberry St., New York, NY 10012.

A provocative art exhibition to harness the power of creativity as a weapon to protect civil liberties. Orchestrated by twelve artists from diverse backgrounds, “Refuge” works to create a provocative discussion around immigration, the fight for equality, displacement, and protection of civil liberties.

Implications For You

A big part of inspiring is helping others find their route to happiness. Everyone seeks their own balance of doing good for others, doing things they are good at and doing good for themselves. Passion projects tend to be found at the intersection of all three.

To recap, the three reasons to support projects like these are that they:

1. are good for the people the projects benefit;

2. are good for the people involved and

3. reflect well on your organization.

Keep all three reasons in mind the next time someone in your organization asks you to support one of their passion projects. Then help them:

• Deliver the project’s good for others.

• Deploy their strengths in their work on the project and use the project to work on their strengths.

• Get the recognition they deserve for the good they’ve done on the project.

• Leverage the project to do good for your organization, its purpose and its people.