Theodore Roosevelt once said that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Detailed feedback, expert knowledge or brilliant analysis have limited use with people who are not receptive to our insights. It is care that builds bridges across which we can walk into their lives, but this surely can’t resemble a manipulative effort to leverage people for some personal benefit or leadership advantage. Here are a few keys to helpful care which is real and relevant as well as rewarding.
- Follow Him. Jesus modelled compassion (Matthew 9:36) and we will reflect it to others if our lives are reflecting His. The more I align to Jesus in prayer and meditation on His Word, the more I find myself naturally loving others; His priorities become mine.
- Follow Through. It may seem counter-intuitive to care via a diary entry, but this simply takes an intention to care and puts legs on it. When we are busy with so many different priorities we need to drive anything that matters through a planned allocation of time. This can be hard for bigger projects, but is surely not for useful phone calls.
- Follow On. A tense discussion, a crisis, a big day; all of these warrant deliberate and urgent interest being shown to people in our world and under our responsibility. The personal touch is not ‘felt’ by waiting until the next logical catch up, but with the timely and well-considered investment of effort. This values relationship and prioritises emotions which must be validated. It means a ‘follow on’ call or personal caring contact as the next logical part of walking through a relevant incident.
- Follow Up. We can’t force accountability for change but we can inspire it. Our offer, if welcomed, can be easily followed through, but a different sort of intentionality is needed to follow up, to ask the right questions and prompt changed behaviours. The possibility of change is invited and not imposed. When action is agreed, genuine care seeks solutions and pathways as the deeper evidence that transcends mere empathy (but which naturally cannot proceed without it).
Love takes calculated risks for the good of an individual. It manifests itself in genuine and sensitive care which is a costly investment of ourselves into people who often need unconditional acceptance just to create the safe places in which the care can be optimised. This will enable the possibility of great outcomes that characterise effective impact but which cannot simply be commodified in the pursuit of a vision. Care, not an outcome, will be the currency of any effective leadership.