A homeless man stood on the streets of New York City with two cats and a dog laid out beside him. The animals were sleeping in the hot sun, and not moving much.
As I looked away from the animals, I spotted another man walking towards the homeless man, dressed in all black with a stern look on his face. He walked as if threatening the air to a duel, leaning forward aggressively.
I watched him approach the homeless man, thrusting a bottle of water at him angrily. I expected a fight. Instead, I heard him say in broken English — “You have to give them water. Are you giving them plenty of water?” jabbing the water bottle towards the animals. The homeless man promised that they were fine. “Well, here is some water. Take it, and give it to the animals,” the man said.
Somehow I had totally misread this man in black. I thought he was going to be a problem, when his greatest concern was making sure the animals were okay.
Sometimes, we mistake passion for anger. We think that any thought delivered with assertiveness is to be defended against.
We expect employees to be “happy” and “onboard.” Have you ever considered that not being onboard with some new initiative could be due to true conviction? And, have you ever thought that employees who are quickly “onboard” could actually be apathetic?
So, the next time an employee or manager looks angry, find out why. Ask them what they are concerned about and how you can help them. That angry stare might hide the heart of a warrior that simply wants to be sure things are done right.
Passionate employees are productive employees. Don’t ignore them. Channel them. They probably care more than you know.