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Follow the Passion September 12, 2009

Posted by Tim Rodgers in job search, Management & leadership.
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I resigned from Hewlett-Packard the same day I received a congratulatory email from CEO Mark Hurd for twenty years of service to the company. That wasn’t a coincidence. I did have another job lined up that started the following week, and I was anxious to tackle the new challenge, but I made the decision to leave HP several months before. It was definitely time to go. The work had become more frustrating and less rewarding, both emotionally and financially. I saw too many people leaving the office at 3:00 in the afternoon, or “working from home,” and it was harder to find my own sense of purpose and commitment. Although we had achieved great success in the marketplace, the business had matured and a kind of malaise had settled on the organization.

I took away two important lessons from that experience, one personal and the other more general. On a personal level I learned that I work best with people who are passionate, and driven, and dedicated, whether to the team or the firm or the industry in general. The second lesson is that managers and leaders have the opportunity to create that passion, and drive, and dedication in others. People who love coming to work in the morning can accomplish great things together. Looking back I have to wonder whether my own doubts and frustrations contributed to the malaise I experienced in my last year at HP, and whether I could have done more to create the kind of environment that could have sustained and challenged me, and my colleagues.

When I left HP I told myself that I was looking for an organization where I could recapture my passion; a smaller, maybe early-stage company looking for senior leadership to help them move to the next level. It’s extremely important for leaders to find their own “inner fire,” not just to keep themselves going, but also to give their followers something to follow.

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