Generally means “I do care”!
Telling ourselves, telling the people around us, telling the people we lead “I don’t care” is pretty common. Particularly in the “pushy” type of leader.
But is “not caring” a necessary characteristic for the modern successful leader?
We know there are tough decisions to be made, more than ever now with resources so scarce.
From birth our brains utilised a coping strategy called “splitting”. Basically this means we idealise stuff we like, and hide away mentally stuff we hate. Sometimes we project this stuff onto others around us and think it’s theirs. We think it comes from them.
Splitting continues into adulthood. Our brain suppresses or compartmentalises data. Painful stuff in particular gets packed away.
“Not caring” may not necessarily be true. Rather, I think I can’t afford to care because it’s too painful.
This is handy in times of battle when feeling upset might get in the way of fighting or fleeing.
But in a drawn-out campaign the generals must think. They must know and understand their troops, be tactical and plan.
If half your data is locked away in a drawer so-to-speak, or shut away from your rational mind, then your decisions will be fatally flawed.
Primitive splitting does give way to a more realistic view of how things are. For example a wrong done to us initially feels like it’s 100% the other guy’s fault.
In time we realise the split was nearer to 50:50.
Genuine “not-caring” is the mark of a psychopath. Few of us would want that epitaph. But out there in the real world of leadership, be it business, church or hospital, the words “I don’t care” may be masking a soft underbelly.
Handling people, the job of leadership, is difficult at times. Painful even.
If we can’t allow ourselves to experience the pain of others, even just a little, we are more likely to make mistakes with people and ironically increase their pain when we lead them.
It will take work to understand this in ourselves. But the investment will pay off handsomely if we can begin to integrate rather than split off, to investigate and process difficult responses, rather than to ignore them.