Today, 13 November, is World Kindness Day, and I think we can all agree the world needs a little more kindness now, more than ever.
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern and care are words often associated with kindness.
For many leaders, kindness is not the first word they would want people to associate them with. Sure, it’s a ‘nice to have’ but before kindness many leaders would say they’d want to be known as inspiring, confident, perhaps a visionary and many other things. Kindness has a connotation of being associated with someone who is naïve or weak. But it is fundamentally not the case.
Being kind can do many things to a person. It has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion and improve mood – and not just to the recipient of the act of kindness. It can also decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, so being kind in your dealings with those you work with is proven to directly impact the lowering of stress levels within teams.
One of my favourite leadership lessons is “clear is kind.” For me, it has proven to be an invaluable little saying that has helped me in many situations. While you never want to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings, sometimes the kindest thing you can do to someone is give it to them straight, offer constructive feedback and be open to sharing your opinion.
What I’m trying to say is that kindness can actually be harnessed as a powerful leadership tool.
Why is it so powerful? Kindness can significantly improve your relationships and connections. Your willingness to tell the truth in a gentle way, by giving truthful feedback in a way that is constructive is incredibly rewarding, both to you and the recipient. It’s a real sign of growth and flexible thinking and goes a long way towards strengthening the connections you form with those around you.
Lead with compassion, follow with kindness
Kindness is about give and take – it’s a two-way street. If you want respect, you must give respect and kindness is the perfect place to start. Compassion can really help guide us to acts of kindness; finding a private moment to ask if a co-worker is ok following a stressful meeting, grabbing lunch for a colleague when you know they are too tied up in meetings to eat, helping someone in your team meet a deadline when you know they’ve been up all night with a sick child. All of these small acts of compassion and kindness can mean a great deal to the recipient.
And there is someone else who could definitely benefit from a bit of extra kindness – you. It’s important to be kind to ourselves first. Create a balanced work/life environment that allows you to refuel, recharge and destress as you need. And when things don’t go your way, go easy on yourself.
There is a great organisation called The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. They have set out to “make kindness the norm” and have a great resource called “7 ways to start making kindness the norm in your daily life”. See on this link https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.
Happy Kindness Day to all, and I hope you each give and receive an act of kindness today.