“Leaders are people who make things happen.”

It’s a simple definition, and one that you can see continually in play in the world around you. When I see people who really excel in their career or excel in life, I notice that they have a strong passion for what they do. That passion makes a world of difference.

Think about it: imagine an employee who has a top-notch education. Imagine that this person has all the right strengths to excel, the knowledge and the experience. Now imagine that this person, though perhaps excessively equipped to handle the job, has no interest and is disengaged at work. Their heart isn’t init.

It’s the passionate people that take the biggest risks, step up to the plate, and help make the biggest leaps forward within teams, companies, and organizations.

The Best Leaders Care About the World Around Them

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books written about leadership. Anyone could pick them up and skim through them, or even read them closely. All the knowledge in the world can’t make a good leader: it’s the care for the work and the people who collaborate with you that makes the difference.

This is in large part because people want to follow a passionate leader. Someone who cares about not only the cause for which he or she is working, but also the other people who are involved in the effort. Passion for the projects, for the company and for the people involved are key to successful leadership.

In a more tangible sense, this essentially comes down to an attitude or mindset when working on projects. The people who are passionate about their work don’t do it for the sake of “doing stuff.” They aren’t the types who sit in their office and try to look busy until 5 pm. They’re driven by curiosity and the motivation to learn about the world around them.

Identify Your Role as a Passionate Leader

When seeking to identify these qualities in yourself, it’s important to remember that leadership doesn’t come in only one style. You don’t have to be the red-hot passionate person who’s always sweating and pounding her fists on the boardroom table. Some of the best leaders are quiet, calm and thoughtful people.

Find ways to connect with the world around you. Curiosity and interest are both key qualities of the best leaders I know. Ask questions of the people in your life. Get to know them better, and learn the details of how your organization runs. That translates into passion: it’s a desire to serve others, and do the best work you can do.