When you think of the traits of a good leader, kindness may not rank at the top of the list, but there is strength in kindness and it can reap real rewards.
Especially in this current climate of endless online meetings, major workplace shifts, and tenuous job security, we are finding more and more that the organizations that thrive are those which cultivate a culture of open feedback, mentoring, and empowering people. Kindness can also mean understanding that your team are whole people with rich, full lives outside of work. Allowing them a safe, comfortable place where they feel valued can help mitigate outside pressures.
In this way, kind leadership also has a direct impact on people's happiness, and happier people are 12% more productive according to a Warwick University study. The study claims that “happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality."
I'm not talking about random acts of kindness though. Intentional leadership means we have a clear understanding of how we show up for ourselves and our teams.
During the all craziness of the past year, here are a few examples of leaders who have demonstrated kindness in the face of adversity:
Ian Sandler, founder of Riley's Way Foundation. Riley's Way not only leads by example, but it is dedicated to fostering the next generation of kind leaders. They support programs across the nation that inspire young people to make a difference in their communities based on intentional kindness. A couple of their projects include the Free Little Farms in Washington DC that provides all of the tools for a family to grow their own vegetables, and two teenagers in Oregon who started the We Dine Together club to ensure that no student has to eat lunch alone.
Ariana and Arnauld Martinez, co-founders of Project Global. Siblings Arnauld and Ariana initially started Project Global as a way to inspire their community during the uncertainty that the pandemic brought. Soon, however, they used their knowledge of robotics to rally a team together to 3D print face shields for frontline workers. Then, they sewed over 300 face masks for United Way. Now, they even offer math tutoring for students who are struggling with remote learning. These leaders see a need and they commit to it out of kindness for the betterment of their community.
Mike Salguero, CEO of ButcherBox. When the pandemic hit and work from home mandates were implemented, Mike Salguero had to redesign the operations of his meat delivery business. Rather than make those decisions solely on his own, though, he surveyed his employees to learn what would work best for them to help them feel safe, comfortable, and productive. This consideration of the needs of his employees also led to a profitable year for the company while many other businesses were struggling.
So, what does kindness in leadership mean for you? How can you be a kinder leader today?