Do the people you lead know that you care? Perhaps before asking that question it would be wise to take a step back and simply ask, “do you care about the people that you lead?” Care is one of those things which is vital to the health of a team yet is somewhat intangible.

It is actually quite possible to lead people without actually caring for them. In John Maxwell’s popular 5 Levels of Leadership we learn that the lowest level of leadership is position: you are the leader and people follow you because you have a title. That is a type of leadership which none of us aspire to, yet under pressure we can easily default there. While each of us desire to rise up in our leadership skill set it is far too easy as the parent, the team leader, the coach or the boss to default into, “because I said so!”

In Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership the second level of leadership is Permission: where people follow you because you care for them and have relationship with them. Caring for people is the building block of leadership and influence. So I will return to my original question – do the people you lead know that you care?

It was about a year ago that I was having lunch with a friend of mine and he delivered a statement that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “the enemy of volunteer care is thinking you have done enough.” (Click to tweet) That statement has stuck with me because it helps remind me of the never ending need I have as a leader to intentionally invest in the people I lead, to make sure they are known and cared for under my charge. Care is not an “on or off” switch which is flipped once and then never needs to be tended to again. Care for the people you lead is like a bank account you constantly spend from and must constantly invest back into. (Click to tweet)

I could attempt to tell you a list of things to do to care for your team. I could tell you to do like:

1) Call them when they miss a day or a shift
2) Spend time talking with them about things other than your agenda
3) Know them well enough to know what’s happening in their life

I could give you a list of things like that to do, but the truth is you can do those specific things and still not actually care about the person.

I did some research and discovered the number 1 movie line of all time. It is that great closing line from Gone with the Wind – “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Make sure that this famous quote from Clark Gable is the opposite of your hearts stance towards the people you lead.  For many of us that might be a great first step to ensure I am a leader who cares for the people I lead.