I LEFT school over 30 years ago, and since then, I have worked in many jobs. I have worked with supervisors and managers at all levels and learned a few good lessons along the way. Some of the best were from some of the worst managers I worked with – I learnt what not to do!

Based on my personal experience, and more recently, my research from around the world, I believe that three simple factors lie at the core of successful leadership: passion, persistence and perception.


Think for a moment about some of the world’s great leaders – who comes to mind? Depending on your perception, the names and images you think of will be different from mine. Let’s just choose a few well-known leaders – people like Mahatma Gandhi, United States President Barack Obama, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew or Mother Teresa.

The one thing each of these great leaders have in common is passion: passion for their cause, passion to excel and passion to achieve their outcomes. I believe that without passion, these great leaders would not have risen to the heights they did.

An inspiring leader is passionate and shares his passion with subordinates to inspire action, commitment and, ultimately, success. My research with teams in Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom shows that they achieve significantly greater outcomes if the leader of the team is passionate about his people, his vision and the outcomes of the team.

Viral marketing is the latest trend to spread brand awareness across the Internet. Passion is like viral marketing, and it spreads easily and is often passed from one person to another quickly, particularly if it’s a positive experience. People want to get on board and support the passion if they can see a positive response from their support and especially if it’s fun to be involved.


If people are passionate, then being persistent follows easily. Everybody is familiar with the story of Thomas Edison, who achieved great success through repeated failure. His 10,000 failures resulted in 1,093 successful US patents.

If he were a lesser man, he would have given up when he faced yet another failure. Instead, Edison’s inventions – from the dictaphone to the light bulb – came from his persistence, his inability to be defeated or give up.

In organisations big and small, leaders are challenged daily to persist with the direction they choose. A successful leader will maintain his passion and persist with the chosen direction, and he will work hard to share his passion and utilise the viral marketing strategy to spread enthusiasm and commitment to the task at hand among the team members.


Understanding the power of perception is the third part of the leadership success formula. Human beings feed their minds with perceptions at every waking moment – perceptions about the temperature, the room they are in and the company they work for.

These perceptions, both positive and negative, filter into your subconscious mind and contribute to the formulation of your values. Your values underpin your thinking and ultimately your behaviours, and your behaviours create your outcomes.

Let me give you an example: a client of mine, who worked as a bank teller, was robbed at gunpoint by a man wearing a motorbike helmet. Since then, she has developed a perception that men wearing motorbike helmets cannot be trusted. This perception has severely influenced her values and subsequently her behaviours and outcomes. Her behaviour will only change if these negative perceptions are dealt with.

Understanding the power of perception enables a successful leader to influence his team to create measurable change and real outcomes. Most leaders try to create change or lead their teams by focusing on influencing their team’s behaviours, whereas a successful leader will work on changing his team member’s perceptions.

Harnessing the 3 Ps

Harnessing the power of the three Ps will enable an average leader to excel and become an above average leader.

First, examine your perceptions before you begin to attempt to harness the power of the three Ps. Focus on the positive, correct the negative, harness your passion and stay persistent. If you can do all that, you will become a successful leader.