It’s a shame that we still see people regarding kindness as weakness, whether at work or in life. The old adage, “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” has stuck around all these years because, quite simply, it’s fantastic advice! Even when you don’t agree with someone, what have you got to lose by being kind? What’s so bad about being kind? You make those around you (and yourself) happier! Happier people also work harder, and isn’t that what any good leader wants for their team?
Oxford University researchers analyzed hundreds of papers that examined the link between happiness and kindness and found 21 studies that prove without a doubt that we’re happier when we’re being kind to others. A University of Warwick study also showed that those who are happy at work are 12% more productive than those who are unhappy. So, how can we use this knowledge to improve our leadership? How do we become more effective leaders by being kind, even when we’re in an unpleasant situation?
I’ve put together this list of 3 ways that kindness will help you elevate your leadership:
1. Improve your relationships with kind correction
One of the less pleasant parts of being a leader is having to have those tough conversations with team members who aren’t meeting expectations; a great leader genuinely wants to help others improve, but these conversations aren’t usually looked at as being kind due to the lack of relationship between the leader and the team member.
By being sincerely kind and demonstrating your desire to help your employees do better, you’re going to build a much stronger relationship than a leader who doesn’t inspire trust because of a ‘harsh’ demeanour.
2. Seeking and appreciating others’ opinions leads to new ideas
When you’re genuinely kind, it makes sense that you’re going to find it easier to network and make more solid connections, right? And it goes even deeper than that: research shows that 72% of award-winning projects involved people reaching out to those, not in their inner circle and talking to them and asking them questions. By valuing the opinions of those around you, even if they don’t know anything about your current project or dislike or disagree with parts of it, you’re displaying kindness – and gaining a new perspective on ways to improve your project.
3. Recognition is a high-ranking motivator among employees that inspires great results
Genuinely and sincerely recognizing your team members when they do great work is not only incredibly motivating but by appreciating and celebrating their efforts you’re also being kind! Global research from the O.C. Tanner Institute revealed that the employees they surveyed placed recognition above all else when asked what their company or boss could give them as motivation to achieve better results. It was placed above things like promotions, autonomy, training and pay increases – which shows that appreciation is not only kind but also inspirational!
When you start treating others with kindness, you’re spreading positivity and opening yourself up to the benefits it brings, in life and in your leadership. You cannot effectively lead and motivate your team without kindness, and it’s important that you keep this in mind at all times.
I’m going to end this blog with one of my favorite quotes about kindness, and I love how it applies to leadership as well:
“Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.”
About the Author
Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organizations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realize what it takes to be a truly great leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognized as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognized for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
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