It’s easy to fall back into the idea that it’s a cold world and everybody’s in it for themselves. News outlets trap their readers that way. Many world leaders embrace cruelty and belittlement. In business, kindness has historically been seen as a weakness and amplified 100% by Hollywood tropes. Getting the axe from the board or a haughty senior leader has become reality TV sport. Moreover, the lone star of the team – the one that saves the company by her wits -- is someone we all should aspire to be.
The narrative is clear: kindness impedes us from success. “Nice guys finish last.” Feeding that storyline at the workplace with hallway murmurs and watercooler whiners can make engagement take a hit.
In the bustle of planning and budgeting, setting goals and deadlines, it’s easy to dehumanize a workplace, forgetting about kindness. November 13 is World Kindness Day. We argue that this shouldn’t be a once-a-year deal, instead an inherent part of your company culture. Kindness goes beyond random acts. Kindness is a mindset that builds success in an organization.
1. Kindness builds meaningful connections . Relationships matter. Connection doesn’t just “happen.” How open is your organization to new workers? How inclusive is it? What strategies does your organization have to improve the quality of life of its employees? Relationships build community which builds success.
2. Kindness builds trust. Leaders and team members that “get ahead” by belittling and hurting others don’t build loyalty. Instead, they construct a team on a foundation of sand – one that’s ready to leave, ready to fall apart, whenever something better comes along.
3. Kindness is catchy. You’ve heard of the “one bad apple” saying. This is true. So, too, is the inverse. Walk the talk. As a team leader, show and live kindness. Help a co-worker with a report. Say, “Thank you,” and mean it. If you’re heading to get some coffee, offer to bring back for everyone. Little things add up and set a precedent on how we should act toward one another. Integrity is a key piece of kindness.
4. Be intentional. We all fall off the kindness wagon at times. Life is hectic and frustrating. Being kind, though, is something you can choose every situation, every time. This doesn’t mean rolling over and letting someone be cruel. It means that you’re assertive. You’re respectful. You maintain your cool and get your point across. Kindness is never petty.
5. Listen to your team. It seems as if we’re all shouting into the void. With the surge of social media: Facebook and Twitter feeds, Instagram stories, YouTube Channels and more, everybody’s wanting to be seen, every opinion heard, every meal shared. Yes. Every. Meal. Shared. Sigh. Perhaps it’s because we’re simply not listening enough. As a leader, model active listening and constructive communication. Always listen first. It’s a first critical step to kindness.
6. A Corporate Social Responsibility program is a way to model kindness organization wide. Give collaborators a chance to give back. Set a precedent. CSR isn’t a catch phrase or afterthought, instead these programs are thoughtful and meaningful, creating opportunities for organizations to make a real difference in their communities year long. Employees who participate in these programs have higher morale and production.
World Kindness Day is a great day to reflect on how much kindness is part of your organization’s culture. Engage your employees with kindness. Every day. And, by the way, we’re doing better. It’s true (don’t tell the news sources or they won’t have a headline for tomorrow). Is the world getting better or worse? This TED talk will make you feel a little better about the state of the world and how you can be part of this top secret strategy to progress!
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart