Friday, August 9, 2013

caring enough to care

I had the privilege yesterday of visiting the Marbridge in Austin where adults who are developmentally challenged live and work.  This amazing place cares for people ages 18-90 who for whatever reason need assistance in their development toward independent living.  What I witnessed was a group of people who truly CARE for others and who give their all to make this pace a reality.  I was especially impressed with their President and CEO James Stacey who gave up a lucrative career in sales to run this place because he knew that this was his life's calling.  As I left Marbridge, I knew that I had witnessed a group of people who "cared enough to care."

So what does that have to do with leadership?  I would posit that it is the essence of leadership, and that when one "cares enough to care" they will do something spectacular and bring others along with them on the journey...and if they are serious about their leadership, they will then "care enough to care" about the people with whom they work.Each of us knows people like this - and each of us know what it looks like though we may be hard pressed to describe it.  So here goes my shot at trying to put into words what it means to "care enough to care" when you are in a leadership position:

  • Be on time...respect people enough to be early to meetings and have everything prepared
  • Be aware...look up and see if those around you are with you or not
  • Be inquisitive...ask others how they are feeling about certain subjects and then take the time to listen
  • Be sensitive...understand that not everyone feels or believes the same way you do
  • Be optimistic...even when you don't feel that way
  • Be encouraging...even if that person needs directions for the fourth or fifth time
  • Be demanding...don't settle for less than what is expected - from others AND from yourself
  • Be thoughtful...take the time to think deeply and engage in deep conversation with others
  • Be extravagant...instead of the regular $25 gift card from Starbucks, give them a $250 gift certificate to the local spa or resort
  • Be patient...not everyone gets it as quickly as you do
  • Be hopeful...people need to know that life will get better
  • Be strong,,,sometimes others need a champion to move their ideas forward
  • Believe...that those around you are as capable - or more capable - than you
What happens when you "care enough to care?"  I believe that the world changes for those around you...and for you personally.  Suddenly, not everything is so bad....suddenly, people seem to do their jobs better...suddenly, you are more productive...suddenly, you become the hero of the group...suddenly, the organization get better...suddenly, people care more about you.

It's really not that hard; AND it's very hard to make this a part of who you are.  The challenge for those in leadership roles is that the above actions are really and truly who you are, and not just a means toward an end.  When caring becomes manipulative, it ceases to be caring, and we are merely "caring enough to get the job done."  It's only when we "care enough to care" that lives - and organizations - are transformed to be all they can be and all that God intended them to be...and that can make all the difference in the world.


Dan Gregory said...

Definitely enjoyed the blog entry this round. The word that kept coming to mind as I read your bulleted points was TRUST. Caring enough to care is outwardly trusting others and inviting them to trust you. Your list implores us to trust that others are capable, innovative, inspired, driven, honest, imperfect people and invite them to trust the same about you. When that connection is made, success becomes more clear and attainable a joy to pursue. Nice job, Sir!

Don Christian said...

absolutely - it is about trust. I believe one begins with trust and should not make others earn it.