Kindness may be one of the least appreciated leadership qualities. Studies show that kindness benefits not only the receiver, but the giver, whether these are companies or people. Companies that value kindness have lower turnover on their teams, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Kind people are healthier and happier.
Kindness is expressed in compassion, generosity, courtesy, graciousness, hospitality, patience, understanding, heart, tact, and thoughtfulness. The opposite of kindness is animosity, indifference, selfishness, and thoughtlessness.
That last word, “thoughtlessness,” got me thinking (no pun intended). I’ve spoken about how rushing has backfired on my relationships at work and at home. It’s often when we are preoccupied with our thoughts that we omit an act of kindness, or say something unkind. It doesn’t reflect our best selves.
A story is told of a law firm that had a high turnover of associates. This alarmed the partners, and they decided to be more polite. They initiated more friendly conversations with their team members. They asked if they would stay late or come in on weekends, instead of demanding it. They began using the simple phrases “please” and “thank you” more often.
Retention dramatically increased as the culture changed. Being kind doesn’t doesn’t mean you are a pushover, or that you don’t expect excellent performance from yourself or your teams.
Four Star General and former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, wrote that while every soldier fears his drill sergeant, drill sergeants employ respect and kindness in addition to strict enforcement. With this technique, drill sergeants create strength and confidence in their soldiers, and a lifelong connection with them.
Whenever you choose kindness, you create a habit of kindness. To cultivate a habit of kindness in your leadership, and in recognition of Random Acts of Kindness week, here are several quotes to inspire and empower you: