Three Myths about Care
Genuine Care is the foundation of inspirational leadership. If you are an inspirational leader, you are very good at getting people on your side. You galvanise your people towards a shared vision. You earn the trust of your people. You earn their loyalty and commitment.
In the most profound cases of inspirational leadership, people will literally follow you to the gates of hell, should you require such a feat from them.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths that we tend to believe about what Care means in a leadership context. Here are three myths about Care that are widely accepted.
Myth 1: Care is the Job of Care Specialists
Another common myth is that care is a job best done by professionals. In a work context this is most commonly made by line managers who want to leave the problem of looking after their people to a support function, so they can get on with the job of producing results. We call this phenomenon surrogate management.
Unfortunately, when a leader leaves the problem of caring for their people to someone else, they also give away their legitimacy. If you are not the one caring for your people, then you will not be the one that your people trust. You will therefore not earn their loyalty or their commitment.
Myth 2: To Care is to Look After Physical and Material Needs
Particularly in the workplace, we tend to believe that Care equals nice facilities and good pay.
But you can improve the facilities and pay people more and still not care and your people will not be fooled. In fact, in a study done on the topic, Etsko Schuitema found that poor living conditions on a mine did not negatively affect trust in management, which was initially surprising.
Unfortunately, whilst good pay, nice facilities and good benefits can earn a few browning points from new recruits, these things are not a substitute for genuine care and never can be. Even though employees may point to the lack of these things as the proof of a lack of care, these things are only one symptom of the bigger problem, they are not themselves the problem.
Care is much broader than this. Care is wishing the best for you and bringing the best out of you. Aristotle said a true friendship is a friendship that aims at virtue. True care is not about your comfort, it is about your excellence.
Myth 3: Companies Care
We often talk about companies that Care. Employees also often accuse their own company of not caring, believing, of course, that it should care. So, believing the myth, companies create Company Care Systems which are designed to do the care bit on the company’s behalf.
But Care is a uniquely human characteristic. To attribute a uniquely human characteristic to an inanimate object like a company is clearly an error, or is at least imprecise.
In the first instance, a company does not have a heart that will bleed for its people. People do. What we actually mean when we say a company cares is that the people within the company care. We can call a company caring only if it has caring people running it.
So, if you are a leader and you would like your people to believe that the company cares for them, the first thing you need to do is care for them yourself. The most important person for every employee is, and should be, their immediate boss. And the boss must care.