The Caring And Competent Approach

There are many models for understanding people and their performance. One approach is:

To focus on the things they care about;

To focus on their competence in being able to deliver these things.

Good people leaders, for example, care for people and also have the competence to enable them to deliver great results. Some leaders care about other things, of course, such as power, money or status.

The following section focuses on the caring and competence approach to leading people. Different leaders may or may not demonstrate these qualities in different ways. Let’s explore these themes.

Caring And Incompetent

Some people in leadership positions may be caring but incompetent. They may care about people and the project but do not demonstrate the required strategic thinking or skills.

Some leaders are successful in some situations but not in others. They may be good at running a start-up company, for example, or an organisation that is facing certain challenges. But they may not have the competence to succeed in other situations.

Some leaders are honest about their capabilities. They may stick to what they do best or aim to add other skills. Some may continue behaving in an incompetent way, however, and this can cause collateral damage.

People who work for such a leader sometimes feel split. Whilst still liking the person, they see that employees may be confused and concerned. The incompetent leader’s actions can lead to the team or organisation ending up on the rocks.

Caring And Competent

Some leaders are both caring and competent. When talking about such a leader, people may say some of the following things.

“They show they care about people and the project … They make people feel welcome and valued … They show an interest in people and their ideas … They are good at making others feel important rather than trying to make themselves feel important.

“They create a positive environment in which motivated people can achieve peak performance … They have the strategic thinking and other skills required to do the job … They keep communicating the organisation’s purpose, principles and picture of success.

“They enable people to perform superb work … They are good at making the tough decisions required to achieve the goals … They have a track record of delivering ongoing success.”

Uncaring And Incompetent

Some leaders may not seem to care about people or the project. They may only care about pursuing their own agenda. They may also not demonstrate the competence required to deliver the goods.

People often switch off from such leaders. They put their heads down and get on with their own jobs. Losing belief, they try to get satisfaction from their daily tasks or outside the workplace.

Uncaring And Competent

Leaders who demonstrate these characteristics can be cruel and dangerous. The only things they care about are their own agenda and power. They may be extremely competent at using techniques to pursue their aims, however, whatever the costs to other people.  

People who behave like authoritarians, dictators and psychopaths can demonstrate these characteristics. They focus on pursuing their own agenda and don’t care about other people’s feelings.

Such people are never satisfied, no matter how much power they gain. They must always win and, at the same time, make sure that other people lose.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a specific activity where you may want to demonstrate caring and competence? How can you do this in your own way? What may happen as a result of you taking these steps?

If you wish, you try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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