Good leaders have a vision for the future and they will work hard to achieve their goals, both personally and on behalf of their organisation. This often means they have strong leadership skills.
In an attempt to drive performance, leaders may fall into the trap of adopting tough tactics to get things done quickly. This might show itself as overly assertive instructions, a reluctance to listen and consider feelings, or making decisions that negatively impact their staff. Often it means failing to take the power of their words into consideration before speaking.
In most cases, the impact of this approach is a far cry from the intent.
The reality is that we are programmed to be group animals. We are wired to rely on one another for safety and survival. Creating an environment that diverts efforts away from progress for all, to protection and survival of self is ironically counterproductive to the very aspirations most of us have as leaders.
“you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”
When used in a leadership context, this old adage should not be mistaken for someone being weak – it’s about being authentically human and commercially wise. In simple terms, you will get more done when you treat your employees with kindness, respect and dignity. This should not be something people have to earn – your default position should be friendliness, kindness and compassion.
Some tips for practising “Kind” Leadership:
Inspire by being positive
You might have a team member that is failing to perform, and your first instinct might be to reprimand them and present them with a list of their shortcomings. Resist this urge. As the great relationships guru Dale Carnegie once said, “praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.” Focus on rewarding the good rather than scolding or punishing the bad. This will increase morale and leave your employees striving to do better.
Create a safe, secure environment
We’ve all been there. Working for a boss that inspires anxiety and panic within us, and who pushes us to work harder by dangling the threat of punishment or harsh words over our heads. While this may achieve short term results, in the long run, you will be left with employees who are counting down the days until they can leave your organisation. Work on encouraging your employees to work hard for you because they care about you and the organisation, not because they are afraid of you.
Show pride in your people
When we accomplish something one of the first things we feel is the urge to tell someone, share the success and have significant others feel proud of us. The motive may be different for different people, but a leader who plays back a sense of pride in others’ accomplishments and efforts is demonstrating gratitude, humility and strengthening the individual’s sense of achievement and worth.
Lead by example
The first rule of the playground? Do unto others and you would have them do unto you. Be friendly. Be approachable. Be honest, fair and understanding. Treat your employees the way that you yourself would like to be treated – this can even include remembering their birthdays, or asking after their children. These seemingly small actions can go a very long way.
Do you have an example of kind or unkind leadership?