I was having a discussion recently with a group of participants in a 5.12 Solutions' Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program here in Denver. We were making the distinction between caring (about someone) and showing interest. One results-oriented participant asked, "Can you care about someone without being interested?"
In response I shared a story about some friends of mine whom I had recently visited. I know that these friends care very deeply about me and would do anything in the world for me. But, in the two days of my visit, they didn't ask me ONE question about my life. They showed very little interest in me.
I left the visit a little deflated.
I went on to say, "Now imagine the scenario of a leader who cares about a team member but doesn't show interest. How do you think the employee would respond?"
My results-oriented leader replied, "I care about my people and I need to show it by making time to express interest in them."
Caring about your team members is important. But, the best leaders understand that caring and showing interest can have a powerful impact on team member engagement, productivity, commitment, and retention.