What Does Caring Have To Do With Leadership?

January 2010, by So-Young Kang

What does leadership mean to you? Several executives and colleagues shared with me:

“The ability to inspire people to pursue your dreams as if they were your own.”
“Understanding that you can’t make anyone follow you. You can only lead by example.”
“The ability to get others to follow you rationally and emotionally.”
Leadership starts with a vision or destination that is often grander than what one could achieve alone, and the power to move people on a journey to achieve that goal. What is required to lead?

The key to leadership is communicating, a 2-way process that involves both speaking and listening-a give and a take. Yet why do we, as executives, often feel we are great communicators when the “communication” is often 1-way?

The key to communicating is listening, which is not the same as hearing. Listening involves taking in, processing, and comprehension. How often are we so focused on our points, our views and our agendas that we cannot even hear the words so we are…deaf?

The key to listening is caring. Caring is about valuing people as assets to be treasured and valued, as opposed to simply required resources to accomplish a goal. When we unintentionally “dehumanize” our people, why are we surprised when they perform the bare minimum or don’t care about our goals. Soft and fuzzy?

As leaders, we often confuse communicating with 1-way monologue and caring with being something soft, fuzzy and intangible, when it really sits at the heart of leadership and performance.

The key to leadership is communicating
The key to communicating is listening
The key to listening is caring.

How much do you care? By the way, we would love to communicate with you vs. just share information with you so please post your comments or e-mail us anytime.