In 2018, February 17th is Random Act of Kindness Day! It got me thinking about leadership, organizations, and kindness. More specifically, I thought about how can leaders like you practice kindness and cultivate cultures of kindness within your organizations.
In my workshops, leaders often tell me that they are “too kind”! They take on others responsibilities, work (unpaid) overtime, make up for others shortcomings, and ignore sources of conflict or dysfunction. That is not being “too kind”. That is a failure to set boundaries, make decisions, and address challenges head on. It isn’t kind to let people take advantage of you, or to let chaos persist. It is not kind to yourself or to others to behave that way.
So what does it mean to be a kind leader?
To be kind is to consider others, show goodwill, and to be helpful, humane and charitable. Here are four immediate actions you can take to lead and cultivate a culture within your organization that is kind:
#1 Make kindness a leadership value
Our leadership is informed by our values and beliefs. Make being kind one of your leadership values and lead from a place of kindness. To be kind is to consider others, show goodwill, and be helpful to those around you so proceed with #2.
#2 Practice kindness
Once you’ve made kindness a value in your leadership, you must practice and demonstrate that value. Here are just a few ways you can start practicing kindness today:
- Listen more, and more deeply.
- Make inclusive decisions, include others voices so you can consider the impact of decisions on everyone.
- Let go of the little stuff! Like our family, we spend a lot of time with the people we work with and as a result we tend to be annoyed by the little things. Be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and use your energy for more important things.
- Support your team! Provide mentoring, coaching or training. Whatever they need to be the best version of themselves.
#3 Perform #randomactsofkindness
We can’t make grand gestures every day, but often there are smaller things we can do that feel special and show goodwill. Here are just a few ideas:
- Bring donuts to the office (or any snack…everyone loves food).
- Make the coffee or stock the office refrigerator.
- Take a colleague to lunch or coffee.
- Acknowledge a job well done
- Say thank you. A LOT!!
#4 Advocate and support policies within your organization that are kind
Organizations struggle to recruit, retain, and engage their employees because they are not kind. When organizations are driven by the bottom line and not their people, they fail. Organizations must be more humane in their policies and practices. You can buy donuts every day but it won’t make a difference if your policies are not considerate, helpful or humane.
Here are just a few policies that you can support and advocate for:
- Paid time off for volunteer work
- Providing sponsorship or donations to a charitable cause
- Fair and equal pay at all levels of your organization
- Family leave policy and comprehensive health care options
- Flex work schedules and reasonable annual leave
People will stay with organizations that are humane and able to demonstrate both in their practice and policy that they care and are kind.
Let #randomactofkindnessday inspire you to be a kind leader and to foster kindness within your organization, even if you aren’t the boss. Lead from where you are and make a difference by being more kind.