It is often the simplest things that make the most impact. Case in point: kindness. Or more specifically, treating all those you encounter with a basic level of kindness and respect. It isn’t hard, and it’s the right thing to do. When you value kindness and demonstrate that value to others, you build loyalty and inspire others. You also help make getting the job done easier and so much more enjoyable.
In our culture, we often equate speed and accuracy—getting there first and doing the best—with being cold and tough. Often leaders believe that to drive results, they have to drive their team with an iron fist. They naturally assume that to gain respect and the most work out of those they manage, they must be hard as nails. They are afraid to be seen as “soft,” or a “pushover.” They prioritize being right with doing the right thing.
In my experience, acting tough, and frankly mean, does nothing but cause stress and friction. It results in high turnover and turmoil within teams. Who wants to work with someone who treats them this way? Loyalty and hard work aren’t built on fear. They are earned through mutual respect, developing relationships and gaining trust—all of which are first made possible through kindness.
When you are kind, compassionate and genuinely concerned about your team members, you inspire them to work hard, be effective, happier and more loyal. More importantly, you model kindness which is, in turn, passed onto others—fellow team members, patients, customers and all whom they encounter.
Above merely being kind and treating others with respect, here are a few ways in which you can model kindness:
Mentor. We all can use some guidance. Giving of yourself, your time and experience is one of the kindest and most meaningful things you can do.
Focus on them. Give 100% of yourself when you are having a conversation. It allows you to not only gain insight and understanding, but active listening helps you be a better leader.
Show your team you care about them as people. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, write them a personal note letting them know you recognize their gifts and contributions.
Tell them you mean it. A thank you for a well-done job means a great deal to most of us. Show team members that you recognize their accomplishments and that you want to share it with others. Send an “all team” email letting every one know of the good work being done.
Think and fix. When you hit a rough patch with a team member, don’t let it fester. Think about what you could do to make things better and reach out.
The reality is that kindness makes things better and practicing it should be a core value of all of ours. Caring about others, treating people the way you would like to be treated and showing everyone respect, is the way I hope we all chose to move in the world. When all is said and done, our business success pales in comparison to the relationships we have built, the lives we have touched and those we have inspired.