By Edwin M Valladares, MS, RPSGT

It has been said that the heart is deceitful1, so knowing our motive for being in a leadership position can be cloudy to ourselves. But our motives are analogous to body language. We may not be speaking with words, but we are always speaking with our body.2 Similarly, our true motive will always give us away as to why we are doing what we are doing. An important question for leaders is to ask why we want to be a leader. We may want to lead so we can make more money, to have prestige or to make change. But in the end to be a good leader our priority must be to serve the mission of the organization and the team members under your care.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. This holds true today. Try it out for yourself. Do you like to be led by people who know a lot but don’t care? No, not really. There will be some who will say that caring has different aspects. Some may describe it as caring for them as people, others will want a leader to care for the same things they care for. Regardless, we want people in leadership to care. Of course, we also want people who are also competent, but that’s a tip for another time. The point is to be a person who cares for their team members. Some leaders just want to use people and they justify it by saying that they paid them to work. But even so, people want to be inspired, respected and cared for. They want to be a part of something meaningful.

So, remember to be a good leader you will need to know your motive. You may want to lead so you can earn more money. That’s usually a part of leading, given the increased responsibilities. However, your true priority will show. A manager that is only in that position for the money will only concentrate on doing the bare minimum and that team will suffer from low morale. On the other hand, if the manager cares for his team members they will reciprocate in performing their job by giving 110%. This isn’t to say that if you didn’t hire correctly for competence or the right position that you will be able to squeeze water out of a rock. No amount of caring will change an incompetent team member (we will see this in a future tip).

Edwin M. Valladares is the Manger of the Sleep Disorders Center at Keck Medical Center of USC where he manages the sleep clinic, sleep lab, coordinates the USC Center for Sleep Health Using Bioengineering (SleepHuB), and lectures to Sleep Medicine and Neurophysiology fellows. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Life Pacific University (formerly Life Pacific College) where he teaches the Integrated Life Science Laboratory and is a Board Member of the California Sleep Society (2016-2020).




  1. Bible, Jeremiah 17:9.
  2. Nierenberg GI, Calero HH. How to Read A Person Like a Book. 1971.