Ten Caring Leadership Principles

Published on 14th March 2016

Leadership is the art of caring. A leader is sorrounded by people who have diverse aspirations and dreams. A leader's  role is to direct, harmonize, and augment this diversity into a performing force. As a custodian of dreams and aspirations, a leader must exhibit caring tendencies in the discharge of his or her leadership duties. Below are ten characteristics that define a caring leader.
Servanthood: The shortest route to greatness is in serving others. You may not wash your subordinates’ feet like Jesus did, but you can lead by example.
Respect: Leaders who love the grandeur of titles usually do not live up to expectations. I don’t mind being called by my first name. What I mind is being labeled an ineffective, non-caring leader. To some people, it all ends in big titles. Such types love to be addressed by their elegant titles: chief, bishop, general manager, CEO, president, etcetera. There is nothing wrong with being called by all these titles if performance and caring are the motives. Most people who influenced their world were not even elected to any position or office.
Higher Social Returns: Caring leaders  serve society as a whole. They are not only there for themselves and their families; they go out of their ways to affect different levels of existence. They desire no personal glory; they work for the good of all. Caring leaders have sacrificed their own comforts and safety for the sake of the entire nation. Think of freedom fighters, human rights activists, and so many men and women who labor for the common good. Think of selfless men and women who have built our nations on their sweat and blood. And now think about these men and women as leaders, and caring ones, for that matter.
People-Oriented: Medical doctors spend substantial amounts of time caring for their patients. Most of them rarely spend quality time with their own families. They go to all this trouble because they love people. Their work not only is centered on people, but is also very demanding. Doctors, like most men and women who have had an impact on their world, are people-oriented. Everything they do and say is centered on the good of humanity. By their word and deed, great civilizations have been built; and by their selfless sacrifices others have entered the portals of power.
Invisibility: Caring leaders  keep their contributions confidential. When they give to charitable causes, they don’t create a publicity stunt out of it. Our world is ruled by greedy leaders who are bent on saving their own faces. They have created media machines which publicize all of their doings. Sometimes you might think they are the only ones who are making a difference. Real heroes are even unheard of, and yet they are invincible—and these include ordinary men and women who go out of their way to touch others in meaningful ways. It could even be you reading this book.
Touching  the Core of Man: Caring leaders  refresh the soul and warm the heart. That’s what makes them significant, because they reach to where it matters most. They take time to care as if everything depended on it. You can see it in their deeds, and perceive it in their words. They don’t just do more, they give out all. They are the Mother Theresas of our time. And wherever they are, lives are touched and society is changed for good.
Lasting Legacies: Caring leaders leave behind a legacy that outlives them. Even after they die, their influence lingers on and affects people’s actions, behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes. Caring leaders realize that life is too precious and too short to be wasted. They know that no one has the ability to live forever. So they endeavor to excel in their domains, or sphere of influence, where their life story is inscribed.

You can’t do everything, but you can do one thing and do it really well. It’s possible to change the world, but the world cannot all be changed at once. That’s why the idea of domains is very important. There is an area in which you can do better, a domain you are wired to bring under control. The first job you have is to define your domain. It could be religious, political, social, academic, legal, scientific, technological, or otherwise. Once it is defined, begin to plant yourself there, by studying what ought to be known about the area and then exerting your influence therein. Once you’ve discovered your domain, aim at excelling in it and aim to be the best you can be.

Caring leaders synergize every moment. If you are a boxing fan, as I am, then you must be aware of the importance of not wasting punches. Whether it is a combination of jabs or a single uppercut, every blow in the ring counts towards the final score. But any boxer will also tell you that he or she wishes for that one moment when an opening will present itself. And it is at such a moment that a knockout is scored.

Synergy is strength in a synchronized moment. In other words, it is achieving the results of many moments in one. Others will term this Moment Maximization. An appropriate time is a synergy of many factors gone before. Moments are relative. There are moments for each action under the sun. Moments could be short or long. Moments could be sad or happy. Moments can bring pleasure or ennui.

Caring leaders make the best of every moment. They take every moment seriously, because they never know which one would take someone into their destiny. Remember that small steps add up to a mile. One’s moment could be just helping a senior citizen cross the road or could be to organize a fundraising event for the fight against cancer or AIDS. Whatever the moment is, it shouldn’t be despised. This is the same reason you don’t have to look down on small things and insignificant beginnings.

Anyone who dreamed a world-changing dream began it in the shadow of his or her heart. It was small and insignificant. But the difference came when the dream was put into action. Caring people do not ignore small signs of destiny. They don’t neglect talent, either. They know that it is small efforts which lead to a whole. A businessman who makes smaller, but steady, profits is better off than another who is waiting to make a one-time gigantic leap! And influence is often pummeled from moment synergizing.
Trailblazing: They are trailblazers who begin something from nothing. Caring leaders are not magic workers; they simply take advantage of needs to create strategic solutions to ameliorate them. Take the case of the HIV/AIDS: while some are still floundering over stigmatization and moral consequences, caring leaders are already fashioning strategies to help victims survive. They are lobbying governments and financial institutions, and raising awareness. They do this because they see an opportunity to help, to show kindness, and demonstrate care in a real way. They think positive and see a way even where there seems to be none.

You can bet caring leaders won’t spend their time rabble-rousing. That’s too parochial for their stamina. They channel their useful energy towards inventing solutions. They exhibit a caring mentality for nature and for what they may not call theirs. Even the Bible entreats people to care for the things that are not theirs. If you are faithful with another man’s enterprise, you can be trusted with your own as well. And if you can care for small things, you can equally care for large ones.

A caring mentality extends kindness and help in a way that is useful to the person being cared for. It strives to provide a platform where those who need care can actualize themselves and be self-reliant when the source of such care diminishes. In turn, this kind of attitude helps victims and becomes a force that enhances their life experience. To care for people is to help them grow and actualize themselves. It is to be concerned and to actually facilitate the growth and actualization of the people you care for.
Change-Oriented: They affect the course of history, the strata of society, and the state of mind. “But how is this all done?” you may ask. The mapping concept will help illustrate how caring leaders influence others. What we call a map is only a calibration of points well marked. Maps give direction. But notice two words here: point and mark. A distance comprises two or more points. Each distance leads to a definite mark, what we call a destination.

A mark is thus made by mapping points. It’s like the writing of a good thesis. Points will make the whole. So it is in life. You leave a mark from each and every point you make on the way to your destination. The things you do every day add up to what your resultant mark will be. Every act, deed, or word you say is a point towards the mark you are trying to leave. And caring leaders make points in people’s lives, one on one, and as a community of people. True influence begins when you make a point in someone’s life, which eventually leads to a mark on life.
Discipline: They are sticklers to matters of character and morality. Caring leaders are a role model to the younger and upcoming generation. And what could be a better gift to leave to posterity than the gift of a caring heart? Because of their outstanding character and integrity of life, caring leaders are able to inspire the young to live meaningful and upright lives. They are instrumental in instilling righteous principles in their followers. As a result, the young can obey laws and contribute their talents, ideas, abilities, and etcetera, to the entire social fabric.

Caring leaders live above blame. They are a good source of mental power and excellent moral caliber. Leaders who don’t care for the future are not worth the salt. But a future-minded leadership cares how posterity will survive. And the best way to protect the future is to invest in the moral development of the youth. When they learn from their leaders how to be morally upright they will not throw delinquent histrionics on society nor flout established social mores. 

The story of Abel and his brother Cain in the Bible is often quoted as an example of care negligence or even as a bad example of care. Cain didn’t care at all for his brother. In fact, he murdered him. This story, however, brings us two points. The first one is that lack of care leads to death. This can be the death of potential, gift, or resolve. When you neglect to care, you are helping the quick demise of the thing or person you neglect to care for. When you care you are giving life. Do you get the point? We call those who kill people, murderers. What about those who kill dreams and aspirations?

Secondly, we are urged to be our brother’s keeper. When you get into the subway, everyone you see becomes your brother or sister. Wherever you are and whomsoever you meet, that is your brother or sister. When they are in trouble, do not ignore them—help them. Rise to the occasion. Be your brother’s keeper. We all love the security of our own immediate families. We work hard and invest in their lives. We take them to caregivers and we value their dreams and goals. What we do for our own families, we should also do for others.

People, unfortunately, take this mentality of not caring even to public offices. If you don’t have a concept of caring, I am afraid even if they offer you a huge office it would not do. As they say, “Charity begins at home.” Caring well for your family does not mean you know how to care. You know how to care when you understand that the same intensity with which you care for members of your closest family is required to care for others.
By Charles Mwewa

Author of The Seven Laws of Influence and other books. This article is solely dedicated to Pastor Charles Chibwe of Zambia, a caring and down-to-earth born leader!

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