How to be a better leader – through kindness

During one of my coaching sessions this week, we were discussing my coacheeโ€™s guiding word for this year (see my last article โ€“ Resolution or Evolution). They came up with many words they thought they ought to have: drive, persistence, speed, determination, passion. Not unexpected as theyโ€™re in a fast changing role and organisation, and these words were on the tip of their tongue.

Then we delved deeper into the sort of person they really are, what gets them up in the morning, why they enjoy working in a fast-paced environment, what is most important to them about their work and life. And then they landed on the guiding word โ€œkindnessโ€. Wow! A long way from those initial thoughts.

We then started talking about the role kindness has in leadership.

Itโ€™s not generally the first word we think of when coming up with the characteristics of leaders. But when you start to think about great leaders, (in my thoughts are people like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Ho Chi Minh, Gandhi, Barack Obama, Iโ€™m sure you have your own) Iโ€™d say there is an underlying kindness in the form of care and compassion that is woven into their actions.

Kindness can show up in many ways at work, but we agreed it starts with caring about your colleagues as individual people, not simply tools in the team or organisation. At a practical level we discussed a variety of ways to show up with kindness, such as: being kind in the way you give feedback, celebrating small successes, recognising everyoneโ€™s contribution, in-the-moment compliments, thank-you notes. I loved the idea my coachee came up with โ€“ to set up an โ€œexchange boardโ€ for team members to write up things they could give and things theyโ€™d like to have help on.

And directly after our session, I stumbled across this article with more evidence on why kindness does matter in leadership and thought it is worth sharing:

So, whether kindness is a word that resonates with you or not, the evidence clearly shows that purposeful kindness creates better leaders, and if thatโ€™s your intention, then why not consider what kind acts you will do?

Photo credit: Mary Oloumi on Unsplash

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