We often think of great leaders as true visionaries or company turnaround specialists. However, great leaders can be great by doing the little things extremely well. Simple things such as smiling, saying “thank you” and other acts of kindness are either taken for granted or frequently dismissed as unnecessary. Some leaders may even believe being kind is a sign of weakness.
A recent blog by Rob Asghar of Forbes titled “How Does Your CEO Treat The Janitor?” reminds us that being kind is a trait of successful leaders too. He tells the parable of the manager who was mean to anyone “below” him and the other manager who was kind to everyone, even the janitor. Guess which one is a success?
Kindness is often overlooked as a behavior needed in leaders. We want our leaders to be strong, driven, bold, confident and other similar traits. We also need them to be kind. Showing kindness isn’t a sign of a weak leader, it simply means they have compassion and the genuine desire to care about their team and the organization. A kind leader is someone who is:
Thoughtful – a kind leader shows an interest in people and how they are doing. They’ll ask about your family, how your day is going, and other aspects of your life not directly related to the project you’re working on. A kind leader also expresses concern for your well-being regularly and not just as a preface to getting answers about work (i.e. “How’s your family? Great, now when can I get that spreadsheet from you?”)
Supportive – a kind leader wants everyone to succeed and demonstrates support for his/her people through words and actions. When employees feel that their leader genuinely cares about their progress, they are more likely to work harder and stay with the company.
Considerate – a kind leader is considerate of other people’s thoughts, opinions and situations. Kind leaders recognize the value in seeking and learning different perspectives because they believe this makes them a better person and leader.
How kind are you? What can you do today to show someone you’re thinking of them? Take the time to ask a peer or team member what’s new in their life. By spending a little bit of time to be kind to people today (and every day) you plant the seeds of good will for the future. In time, you’ll begin to see a more engaged, productive and caring workforce.