Show or Tell?


Some leaders say they care and some leaders show it. It’s the easiest thing in the world to say that we care but some immature leaders are just too afraid to show it. Even though we may really mean it challenges can still appear when the people we lead hear it but don’t see it.

Authentic leaders intentionally show that they care. Authentic leaders don’t leave the perception of caring to chance, authentic leaders strategically plan how they will demonstrate that all-important fact that they care.

So let me ask you this: are you a leader that says you care or are you a leader that shows you care? You may truly care when you say you do but people can have doubts, they may question your motives if you only say and never show. So what do you do to intentionally show that you care? Here are a few ideas:

1) Truly listen! Give your time and undivided attention to your people, demonstrate you care by showing active listening. Take notes if you must, repeat back what you’ve heard and leave no doubt that you heard what was said and that what was said matters to you because the person that said it matters to you.

2) Invest time with your people. Some leaders spend time on their people while authentic leaders are investing time with their people. It’s simply not possible to build another leader without investing your time, energy, and resources into that person. You can perhaps build a follower by spending time on them but an authentic leader focuses on building more leaders. Building more leaders requires that you invest your time. Schedule time with your people, never try to invest free time or spare time because odds are you’re never going to have that type of time. Your investment must strategic, intentional, and consistent. Carve out some time each day, even five minutes a day is better than nothing but everyday is a must if you goal is to truly help others on your team grow into a leader.

3) Provide caring feedback. If you’re a leader I’ll guarantee your people want to know what your thoughts are about them. Give them honest, open feedback. Perhaps some coaching on an area of improvement and some positive reinforcement on something they do well. This feedback should be consistent, it should be on a regular basis and understand once you start the feedback cycle you can’t stop. Once started when stopped it causes all kinds of doubts and concerns and hesitations on the part of your people. If you stop talking they believe something could be wrong so commit to continuous feedback, continuous conversations with your people about their progress, your vision and your hopes for them. Let them know that great things are possible for them and that you’re there to help them achieve those great things.

You may not have to really care about your people to call yourself a leader but you do really need to care before your people will call you one. So go ahead, show you care, I dare you!

4 thoughts on “Show or Tell?

  1. Lovely! Falls in line with a leader I met today who for one shows that he cares. I heard this somewhere – ‘People dont care how much you know, until they know how much you care’.
    Thanks for writing.

    1. Yep, that’s a John Maxwell quote and I believe it’s absolutely true. We humans just have no motivation to follow those who do not care about us as people.

  2. Steve – great article! Very timely with Jack and Suzy Welch’s piece on leader authenticity in April’s Issue of Fortune Magazine.

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