Effective leadership through kindness

7 min read

Three things are important in life.

The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.

Henry James

The pandemic initiated a major humanitarian crisis and leaders all around the world were already aware that to find the exit from the crisis and lead their companies successfully, they should focus on the human being.

And their focusing on the human factor should be expressed in a way that could immediately affect their teams. It has never been more crucial than now for leadership to embrace kindness.  Kindness in leadership was always there. It is not a novelty. But in these unprecedented times, it takes more than good logistics and a good company strategy to sail the rough waters.

So, what are we doing differently than any other time before? We are leading with kindness.

What researches came to prove with their results was that those leaders who lead with kindness regardless their style of leadership have produced the best results.

The Quantum Workplace research on employee engagement during the pandemic, issued in 2020, recorded amazing results as to the commitment of employees to their companies and their satisfaction by their leadership. 83% of employees stated that “the senior leaders of the organizations value people as their most important resource”. 9 in 10 employees “felt well- supported by their immediate manager”. 88% of employees characterized the communication by their leaders as “effective”.

The research “Kind leadership during a crisis and beyond”, authored by Hall & Partners, the Global Thinkers Forum, the Said Business School and the Women of the Future, published in 2020, produced an online survey of 1,500 men and women from all spectrum of the business world, countries, organizations. The results were that 3 in 5 agreed that kind leadership is the reason they want to stay at their company for longer that they originally planned. 40% stated that the leadership actions during the pandemic made them more engaged and motivated to work hard for their company.

Engaged workforce, happier employees, are employees committed to their companies and willing to run the extra mile.

A Warwick University research of 2019 found that kindness had such an impact on employees that it raised their productivity by 12%.

Adding kindness to your leadership should be understood not as a soft skill but rather as a proper management skill with qualities that we do not associate with the stereotypical definition of kindness. Can you be kind and give a tough feedback? Can you be kind and show empathy? Can you be kind and accept your limitations? Yes, you can!!!

How to lead with Kindness in the business world?

Our seven steps to be a kind leader

  1. Be compassionate to your people. Show them that you stand by them. Support them and listen to their needs. We are experiencing a tremendous new reality, that changed almost everything overnight. As a leader with kindness, you should act with compassion and show consideration for the circumstances that your team is experiencing.
  2. Communicate. Communicate your ideas, your vision, your projects in an open and honest way to your team. Undistracted and open communication will give to your team the certainty of security, the sense of knowing where we are going.
  3. Show empathy. Empathy is a lot like compassion but also with a touch of deep understanding to go with it. Empathy means putting yourself in their shoes and really getting in touch with their true needs and emotions. A leader who is kind, will demonstrate understanding of the deep needs of the workforce.
  4. Be courageous. It took a lot of courage from leaders all over the world to lead their companies through the unexpected reality of the pandemic. Being courageous may well mean taking a risk that no one else is willing to take. Courage will be needed not only during the pandemic, but after the pandemic. The company world is preparing for a new world still to be formed.
  5. Give honest feedbacks. What is kind in giving a negative review? Telling the truth. As a leader, you should not interpret kindness as a soft skill, as pampering. It is kind to speak the truth to your employee and let them know your evaluation of their work. It is kind because your honesty will help them improve their performance for the benefit of the company.
  6. Empower your people. The time is now for you as a leader to boost your team’s morale. If not you, who else? You are the captain of the ship and everyone is looking up to you. To empower your team, you first have to be a believer, so that everyone else follows your vision, your passion, your ideas. Believe in your good ideas and then, empower your people, so that they go through all obstacles.
  7. Accept that you are only human. A  leader with kindness is the one with humility. Accept your own limitations, accept that sometimes you will make mistakes, accept the fact that you have taken wrong decisions. After all, you are only human.

What type of leader are you?

And now, a piece of advice for every leader!

You may wonder as a leader. “Should I change my style of leadership to embrace kindness?”

We suggest as LMW that kindness is a quality that can characterize any type of leadership.

And we offer you our insight with practical tips on how to exercise kindness according to your type of leader.

Are you a :

The transactional type. You can be a transactional leader, which means that you direct projects to others and reward them or not for their delivered result.

  • Our tip. Communicate with your team your opinion always with a manner that shows consideration for the specific traits of the employees with targeted suggestions for their professional development.

A transformational leader is the one who encourages change, new methods, and the one who leaves working teams enough freedom to do things on their own.

  • Our tip. We all know that change, no matter how much welcomed it may be, it also causes pain and discomfort. Do not forget to comfort pain.

The servant type. You facilitate the others, and you are always looking for ways to boost the team’s moral and competence.

  • Our tip. It is a given that you are kind to your team. But you should also be kind to yourself. The true nature of kindness is a nurturing one for all, but first and foremost with ourselves.

You can be a democratic leader, which literally means that everybody has a say in the decision-making process and that collaboration and joint work is the key element of your type.

  • Our tip. Kindness is to secure the boundaries. As free-spirited as you may be as a leader, setting clear boundaries is an act of kindness for your team of employees, because you will offer them a very much needed sense of structure.

You can be an autocratic leader, one to rule them all type, which is very much the idea, you call the shots, you decide, your team is following the orders.

  • Our tip. Nobody is doubting the righteousness of your decisions. However, it is kind to boost the morale of your team and to empower them. They are after all executing your ideas and follow your vision. Let them know that you appreciate them.

The bureaucratic type follows the existent order of things and hates to change already well proven methods.

  • Our tip. Be courageous. You may be a great leader following the well documented path, but at the same time, show courage and determination.

The type of so-called laissez-faire leadership has to do with leaders that lead their teams with absolute freedom, monitoring them, but without a lot of intervention.

  • Our tip. You may offer absolute freedom to your team, but this freedom can be interpreted as indifferent to your employees’ personal wellbeing. Show empathy for their concerns and address their problems.

Final thoughts

It was Henry James who pointed out that “three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind”. We abide by these words.

Kind leadership is motivating, is encouraging, is keeping our workforce together and strong. In LMW whether we recruit future senior leaders or consult organizations, we promote and foster kindness as the ultimate skill of leadership.

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