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Caring as a Personal Leadership Action

Caring as a Personal Leadership Action

Several years ago, I attended a talk by Patch Adams, physician, health care reform activist, and subject of the movie “Patch” starring Robin Williams. What strikes you about Patch is his passion and tirelessness, particularly concerning improving access to health care. But I remember most about that evening is a statement he made about caring.

“We never care”, said Patch. “Caring is an intensely personal action. We never care. I care.” I believe he is right.

I’ve also heard the expression that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Although I do not necessarily believe that to be true in all circumstances, I agree with the principle that people generally want to know that you care about them. And that is certainly is true in the context of business leaders.

It may seem foreign to some and quite natural for others, but leaders generally fare much better when they demonstrate caring for their teams. Research has shown the benefits of the ‘affiliative’ leadership style, which features caring relationships between a leader and his/her team members. And numerous authors have written convincingly about the positive impact of trust and caring between leaders and team members in a variety of settings, including performance feedback, challenging assignments, high performance under pressured circumstances.

So whether we can honestly claim that our organization cares about its people (with apologies to Patch Adams), we can always demonstrate that we as individuals care about our employees and team members. Doing so results in a positive impact on our relationships and our team’s performance.