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leadership lab

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

We're living in an interesting time as it relates to work and business. A time where budgets are being slashed daily, and employees are continuously being asked to do more with less. There's an increase in stress, increase in work hours and employees have a feeling that they are constantly being stretched to the limit – day in and day out.

And this is just the work environment; we haven't even begun to discuss the other areas of life that we as human beings deal with on any given day.

As a result, culture is such a critical piece to building a thriving team. Long gone are the days where salary is the single determinant to making one's experience at work a joyous one. Salary alone isn't enough to keep employees motivated. People need to feel inspired.

I've always been a firm believer in the exponential potential that comes from someone who has tapped into their passions. When you have team members who get to operate in their element, making use of skills that they'd embody even if they didn't get paid to do so, you begin to lock into something greater.

We live in a society that tends to throw money at issues of productivity and although money makes a lot of things easier, it doesn't necessarily make loving one's job experience easier. We have a lot of people these days making a lot of money, yet they're coming home stressed and drained at the end of the day. What good is that?

I believe we have an opportunity as leaders of teams, companies and organizations to build a culture rooted in uncovering, activating and tapping into employee passions. Where we build infrastructure that helps our employees win, beyond their salary. Where we spend time during yearly performance and development plan reviews to truly understand the nature of an employee's lifestyle beyond their 9-to-5 experience with us, uncovering elements about them we did not know, connection points and passion points that we may be able to leverage within the creation of a more fulfilling daily work experience.

We have the opportunity to re-think how we as industries recruit and engage employees, ensuring that our strategies and tactics work harder and are tailored more specifically around the lifestyles of those we're seeking to attract. One size no longer fits all.

There's a very human element to work and business that I feel gets overlooked in today's high-pressured, consumption-driven, productivity-focused economy. Sure, we all have goods and services for sale and a profit to make, but let us not forget that we are only as strong as the valuable pieces that help get us to our destination. Before being employees and consumers, we are people first. People who want to be understood, valued and cared for.

What role does the understanding of employee passions, dreams and aspirations play within the effectiveness of overall performance? In my opinion, much more than we currently give it credit for.

I mention the above to illustrate the notion that when we have a discussion about leadership, we also have to include some other equally important terms; qualities like openness, empathy, humility and above all a constant awareness and consideration for employee aspirations and goals. Passionate and inspired teams bring forth a return one can never quantify.

Jesse Jones (@iamjessejones)  is an entrepreneur and the founder of TEN81 Lifestyle Inc. @TEN81Inc.), a lifestyle marketing agency with roots in research and strategy, focused on helping brands understand the 24-hour consumer/shopper mindset.

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