The Power of Care at Work

By Sameer Bhangar, Simple Intentions Awareness Consultant

hands caringI met with someone this week who spoke about how much she admired her current leader, a Vice President in a large technology company. I was curious what she admired about him. She described him as a visionary, motivator, excellent communicator, and other goodness associated with capable leaders. She genuinely meant all of them.

Then she paused, and from a more heartfelt place added, “And he genuinely cares!”

This really struck me, that what appealed to her most about the leader of her group, someone she truly admired and respected, came down to his genuine care – for the vision, the work, and most of all, for the people on his team.

In my own experience leading team workshops, I often start by sharing my experience in technology along with my transition into team culture-related roles. I always plan on saying that for me, the underlying motivation for this transition is simply that I genuinely care. I care about how we bring our so-called authentic selves to work. I care about finding greater meaning at work.

What’s interesting is that I rarely actually say this. Something in me, in the moment, totally forgets to share this aspect about genuinely caring. Instead, I stick to the bullet points on my resume. I don’t know why, but sharing how I care about people’s well-being with a bunch of people I’m meeting for the first time feels vulnerable. And yet, the occasions when I do express how much I care – about the process, people, ups and downs, outcomes, learnings, conversation, all of it – it resonates with the group and brings us closer.

Considering this for yourself, I offer two questions:

  1. Do you genuinely care about what you’re working on and with whom you work?
    None of us will care one hundred percent of the time about every aspect of our role. But somewhere underneath the details, is there a thread of genuine care?
  2. If your answer is “yes,” then have you communicated this to those you serve? Do they know what you care about? If it feels uncomfortable to share this in a genuine way, you might be on the right track. It’s often our willingness to step into this discomfort and awkwardness that pushes us to deeper connection and ultimately stronger trust.

And if your answer is, “No, I don’t really care,” then what are you doing about it?

I wonder if what the industry often describes as burn-out, disempowerment, disengagement is in many ways a reflection of how much we truly care. In any case, it might be a useful place to start: If you find you no longer care about the people, project, company, or environment you’re in, then what is the conversation you need to have to create a shift for yourself? Over time, I believe we will all go through natural cycles of genuine caring and some levels of disinterest. The question is, are you aware of this and how are you including it in your thinking and conversations?

Just like the individual I met with last week, you may touch people more deeply with how much you genuinely care than how buttoned-up you are with the details of your vision and strategy.

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