In the 1984 movie, The Never Ending Story, child warrior Atreyu seeks answers from the ancient, giant turtle named Morla. However, Morla is completely disconnected and doesn’t care enough to answer the questions. Thousands of years old, the ancient turtle has grown indifferent to everything. Atreyu asks, “Don’t you care?!”

Morla responds, “We don’t even care, whether or not we care…”

Morla the Giant Turtle says - We Dont Even Care, Whether or Not We Care

Does that remind you of some leaders? Indifference in politics, business or church may occur when leaders sit stagnant too long. This is a problem when it occurs with a few leaders, but it’s a crisis when those leaders begin to accept the same behavior from their team members.

When leaders give up caring about the passion of their people and focus only on skills and abilities, apathy for the vision and mission sets in. When this apathy sets in, the organizational culture looks inward more than out. The result? Self-interest and a focus on one’s career above and beyond the needs of the organization. Take this example…

Boss Mary has been in her position a long time. She knows her duties and performs them very well. Her boss and the organization depend on her and often overlook her for promotion.

Mary knows everything she needs from her team. Her team does well, but over time, there is less spark, energy or excitement from Mary.

Mary depends on her own team more. The team excels at tasks so Mary and other leaders begin to overlook her team for promotions. The team, seeing more apathy from their leader and less opportunity for themselves, focuses on how to get recognized, beyond their boss.

Now, the team is focusing on individual recognition more than the vision and mission of the organization. They’re apathetic to the future of the organization and obsessed with their individual success over the needs of the company.

Later in the discussion with Atreyu, Morla learns death may come soon. “Die?!” Morla asks, now excited, “Now that, at least, would be something.” Morla didn’t care and it lead to excitement at potential destruction. If you’re leadership doesn’t care whether or not your people care, you may find your organization in a similar situation.

Question: Why else is it important for leaders to care whether or not their people care? You can leave a comment here.