The role of kindness in leadership is sometimes underestimated. Today, we want to shed light on the importance of practicing kindness as a leader and explore what it means, why it matters, and five key actions that can help you embody this virtue.
What is Kindness
Kindness is more than a superficial nicety; it is learning to genuinely care for other people. It is the practice of empathy, compassion, and consideration towards others. It means concerning yourself with the well-being of your team members: being present, actively listening, offering support when needed, and treating everyone with respect and dignity.
Why it Matters
When leaders are kind and genuinely care for other people, they see a boost in employee morale and retention. They also motivate their team to perform at their best and enhance productivity. And, they create a positive organizational culture where teamwork, communication, collaboration, and innovation thrive. Here are statistics to substantiate that:
- Harvard Business Review documented that employees working for kind and compassionate leaders are 130% more likely to stay with the organization, and they report being more committed to their work.
- Research from Signature Consultants reveals that leading with kindness is the most effective leadership style to drive innovation and competitive advantage in the marketplace. An organization is 5X more likely to be considered innovative if a company “is kind.” And, workers named a leadership style of “puts kindness before anything else” as most correlated to competitive advantage.
But beyond the performance benefits, practicing kindness creates meaningful relationships and helps us be happier and more fulfilled as human beings.
How to Practice Kindness
Here are five ways to practice kindness.
Active Listening: Kind leaders listen with an open heart and mind. They listen to understand and support, not to judge or correct. They genuinely want to hear others’ inputs, concerns, and feelings.
Empowerment: Empowerment is a hallmark of kindness. Leaders who trust their team members with responsibility and provide opportunities for growth not only build confidence but also show they believe in their employees. Responsibility and trust are powerful acts of kindness.
Recognition, Appreciation and Affirmations: A simple “thank you” can go a long way. Recognizing and appreciating your team’s efforts, talents, and contributions fosters a sense of belonging and motivates them to excel. When a person or team delivers, give them the credit and accolades.
Support and Development: Supporting your team’s professional growth and well-being is an essential aspect of kindness. Encourage learning and development, provide opportunities for skill-building, offer guidance, mentorship, and coaching when team members face challenges. That’s kind.
Keep Your Cool: Yelling, belittling, shaming, and showing outright anger at people will fully poison any efforts to be kind or create a kind culture. Learn to take a deep breath, step away, keep cool, avoid criticism and blaming, and communicate calmly and professionally. Kind leaders keep their cool.
A Case Study of Kindness
Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft’s CEO in 2014. He emphasized the importance of empathy and kindness as a key part of their culture. He encouraged and coached their people to embrace challenges, learn from failures, and support one another. He prioritized self-care, personal development, and mental health for employees, and empowered leadership and teams to voice their ideas, take risks, and fostered a sense of ownership (empowerment) among all.
Satya Nadella’s leadership style combines technical acumen with a deep sense of kindness and empathy. He not only shaped Microsoft’s workplace culture and improved Microsoft’s performance but also set an example for leaders across industries.
As you practice acts of kindness you will create a high-performing and innovative culture, develop more meaningful relationships, and find more fulfillment in life individually. That’s becoming your best!
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart
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