Think about any problem or situation you recently had in your own organisation or with your team. Irrespective of the context, if it was dealt with in an aggressive manner, a hostile response was the probable result. Whereas when the scenario was approached with kindness, a sense of openness and approachability would have been created. Responding or dealing with people in kindness tend to make them think clearly and calmly about it, and the outcome is naturally more positive.
In many cases, and especially in a corporate setting, kindness as a quality within leadership is very often mistaken as being “soft” or “too accommodating”. It is also labelled and perceived as being a feminine trait. Clients and employees tend to think that if kindness is your core value, they can walk all over you, but as John Travolta’s character in the movie Swordfish states: Don't confuse kindness with weakness.
To me, kindness, optimism, consideration, and compassion is contagious. I manage my employees in this way, but also expect that from them in return. It creates trust among us. I have learned that everyone is going through something, no matter how big or small. With a little kindness and gratitude, we can make our daily lives better together.
You, as a leader, should, however, practice kindness assertively. Consider the following tips:
- Do not be afraid to say no to clients who are abusive or who impacts your team negatively. If you treat your clients with respect and kindness, you and your staff deserve to be treated likewise. Show your staff that you will not stand for cruel or inhumane treatment.
- Do not hire people who are unkind. They will influence your entire team and drag them down. Hire people who are empathetic, grateful, caring, considerate and gentle.
- When you arrive at the office, slow down; be friendly and smile; greet everyone and take an interest in their lives.
- Make time for your employees to talk about them and what is currently going on in their lives.
- Be considerate and mindful of their feelings when you must reprimand them.
- Be vocal in your praises and show your appreciation of their good performance.
- Remember that each person also has their own goals, needs, and wants. Everyone’s background, scenario and lives are different.
Most of the time it only takes you as the leader to lead with kindness. I promise you it will release a ripple effect on your team. I am yet to meet one leader who can testify that leading their employees with kindness did not give them the desired results. On the flip side, there are numerous examples of where a toxic work environment impacted negatively on performance and profits. Lead with kindness and make it a core value in your business.
Elmarie Pretorius, International Soft Skills Trainer, Author, Motivational Speaker and Managing Owner of The Mindspa Institute