I once saw a tally for two professional athletes following their respective championship game performances based solely on the number of times each athlete said "we" or "I" in the interview. Player APlayer B We - 14 We - 0 I - 0 I - 17
Note, both players won championships. Both players were the MVP of the final series for their team. Whose team would you want to play on? Who do you want as a teammate? As your leader?
To some it doesn’t matter - ‘as long as you get the job done’. Aside from cheating, most would agree. However, I believe the process, the how, is more important than the actual accomplishment.
It’s the process that led Player A’s team to two more consecutive championships and Player B’s team to disband and seek better chemistry and culture elsewhere. Why Should We Care? The first fact we must acknowledge is that something like the interview above is a manifestation of deeper thoughts and beliefs. The words we choose, especially when we don’t have time to intentionally pick them, is a snapshot into our true beliefs. And those beliefs are the essence of our attitude towards our lives and our teams. Sure we can camouflage them at times, but our actions will ultimately always be the byproduct of our beliefs.
So, the question becomes - how big is your circle of care? At the center of everyone’s circle is the most important person in the world to you … you! There is no arguing it. We are all selfish, even though most of us work very hard every day to lessen our natural tendency to care about ourselves more than we care about others. But beyond that center circle, very little is locked in. For most people, your family is next. Then, maybe your hometown, village, or even state.
The same circle of care translates to your team. We are all conditioned to think about our team ourselves first. This is why the biggest threat to any team is always selfishness. And for some, their circle of care at work ends there. As leaders, this should never be the case. We must intentionally broaden our circle of care and choose words and actions that model this for those we lead.
Here are a few ideas to help you, and those you lead, to recognize your circle of care and expand your rings.
REAL TALK - Action Steps Here are few exercises or activities that can help improve your awareness, and your willingness to express your care for others.
We naturally do this when we meet a new person. Think about the last time you met someone for the first time. You likely began asking questions seeking common ground, which you could connect over: From Ohio? Me too! Have a dog? Me too! Wear socks? Me too! Yet, for some reason, when we find ourselves on teams we suddenly begin looking for all the things different about those around us. This activity is simply designed to help us see that we often have much more in common than we realize.
I’ve referenced Gary Chapman’s before, but it is so good for increasing awareness of what communicates love and caring for yourself and others. Here, we want to think about the Love Languages of those around us. Then be intentional about sharing our appreciation for them in a language they best understand.
Your Circle of Care
Create your own circle of care. Draw concentric circles (like a dart board) and put “Me” at the center. Then, work your way out considering who you care the most about. It will be helpful to think about groups rather than individuals. Continue working your way out until - and this is important - your actions stop showing you care. For example, I like to think I care about the lack of clean drinking water in 3rd world countries, but currently I don’t do anything to show I care about that - donate money, volunteer to serve, etc. so I can’t say I care because there is no action being taken on my part.
It’s appealing to us to say we care about everyone, but it’s simply not true. We may want what’s best for people, but actually to care - to take action - is reserved for select groups for most of us. The question is how big is that group for you? Where does it stop? And, how can we make it bigger?
In the current times, we would all benefit from expanding our us. For most, it’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we don’t show it.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!