I Don’t Care… One of the Most Dangerous Phrases

April 2, 2013

“I don’t care.”

One of the most dangerous comments people – and especially leaders – can make. 

We’ve all had those situations where we’re juggling a million things, and someone comes up and asks yet another question, or has yet another idea, and the knee-jerk response is “I don’t care, figure it out.”

The real truth is: leaders do care.

They care a lot. They care about every little detail in the organization, team, or project that they lead. 

A better phrase might be: “I do care, but I’m going to trust you to make the decision.”

Or “I do care, but I’m going to let you decide all the details. Please just run them by me one more time.”

Or “I do care, because what you’re doing is valuable, and it makes a huge contribution to the team. But I just don’t have time to get into it right now.”

“I do care, because our brand is important, and everything we do needs to be on-point and on-brand.”

So the reality is: you do care as a leader.

You just may not have the time, energy, or attention needed to deal with that issue at that time.

But when we say, “I don’t care”, we belittle our employees and/or give them a false sense of what our real involvement will be. We demotivate them, we squash their vision, because they care what they’re working on (that’s why they’re bringing it to you).

So next time: do care, even though you may not care in the moment. If you more clearly articulate your true level of concern and involvement, you’ll create a stronger and more engaged team.