Caring more is not a strategy

A few years ago, I worked with a team of awesome people who suffered from the leadership of a very emotional person. And when I say emotional, I don’t mean this person was blubbering, joyful, or thrumming with purpose. By that phrase, I mean someone for whom every problem has a solution, and the solution is to ‘care about it more’. Can’t figure out how to make something profitable? Just care more. Problems managing staff? Care more about them. And do absolutely nothing else.

Except that caring more isn’t a strategy.

Caring about things is great. It’s something we do as people. And having a manager who genuinely cares about what’s going on for their team and business is a damn sight better than having one who doesn’t. But caring — emotional investment in the outcome — needs to be attached to action. Caring about things on their own isn’t actually very helpful. And here’s why.

  1. It’s exhausting for you and your team if you invest emotional energy that’s way above the actual magnitude of the problem.
  2. By putting everything on the same emotional level, you split your focus and create a huge amount of distractions.
  3. By expressing that you care about things, you’re essentially absolving yourself of the responsibility of actually tackling the problem. As long as people can see you care, your intentions are clear and can’t be faulted.
  4. You set a template for emotional instability at work as the norm.

I’ve seen this in a few workplaces, particularly from people who have risen from creative or entrepreneurial roles to leadership roles. It’s sometimes positioned as being very ‘human’. To me, to be human is to act with care, not talk about care.


Add comment: