COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP: Care, from a Legitimate Leadership viewpoint, is a matter of intent or motive. For those in authority at work, care is about whose interests are being served. Leaders who care are in the relationship to “give” to their people not to “get” something out of them. Whether leaders care about their people is evidenced in where they spend their time and what they give their attention to. When leaders don’t give time and attention to their people, their people will conclude that something is more important to the leaders then them. Care should not be confused with being “nice”. Leaders can be anything but “nice” as long as their tough behaviour is in their people’s best interests. Care, in other words, is definitely not a soft and fluffy thing.
THE ARTICLE: There is a world of difference between liking someone and caring about them.
When you say “I like” someone or something, you are expressing a positive feeling. It may dispose you to behave in a positive way, to engage in conversation with that person, or buy his latest book (if he is an author whose previous books you have liked).
Or it may not. We have Facebook to thank for making ‘like’ probably the most over-used verb in the world today. Online likes have become a metric by which popularity is measured. They may be used to guide a sales campaign, to which you, one of possibly millions who clicked “Like”, will be asked to respond.
Liking carries no commitment. There are many people you like, but make no effort to approach, think about, or spend time with. And unless you get to know them, and care about them, you won’t be there for them if they need help.
Care is an action verb. The dictionary definition is ‘to provide what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something’.
Caring carries commitment. It’s visible in ways large and small. You show care for a young entrepreneur by mentoring her in your personal time. You care when you take a late night phone call from a friend who needs advice. It’s caring when you ask for an opinion from someone younger or less experienced than you.
Many everyday actions demonstrate your care. For example:
Your integrity and character both suffer when you claim to care about someone or something while behaving in ways that clearly demonstrate you don’t. There are many public figures who have discovered this the hard way. Think environmentalists with frequent flyer credentials, care givers who abuse children or obese smokers who claim to care about their health.
However, the test of whether you truly care for people is most visible in the small, often unconscious, behaviours that are on show in your everyday interactions.
How often do you …
Think of someone who you know truly cares about you. How would you rate him on the list above? Notice any ways in which his profile is different from your own.
Your thinking is invisible, except to the few people who can read your mind. If you want people to know that you care about them, you must translate that feeling and the thoughts that accompany it, into visible actions, both small and large.