Kindness pays off
Last week was Random Act Of Kindness Day. Perhaps a little too cute, for sure, but a welcome prompt to reflect on the role of kindness in business.
With (surprisingly) kindness meaning different things to different people, I went straight to the dictionary definition: “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. Pretty agreeable qualities, both at work and outside of work, one would think.
So why is it that although we all want to be treated with kindness, in the corporate world it’s often not happening? Is it because many still confuse kindness with weakness?
I remember a boss I had early on in my career. A clear thinker and tough decision maker, he was also a kind man.
Our first conversation when he took over the team went as follows. He wanted to hear in detail what my role was, what my objectives for the year were, what was easy and what was difficult. He listened, and when I had finished all he asked was “And how can I support you?” As I was about to find out, his interest was genuine, as he saw that his role as a leader was to enable and support his team to achieve and deliver.
On a different occasion, I remember our intern telling me how he had walked around to her desk and politely asked whether she might have time for him. She couldn’t believe that a board level director would treat an intern with that much respect and at eye level.
The night before St Nikolaus Day (celebrated in the run-up to Christmas in many European countries) St Nikolaus (or actually parents, according to some) leave treats for children to find the next morning. Our boss left home baked biscuits on everyone’s desk!
Needless to say, we all bent over backwards working for him to make sure the team delivered above and beyond.
I am a great believer in being kind – at home as well as at work. People choose to do business with people they like, be it hiring, promotion or purchasing decisions. Kindness goes a long way towards building trusting relationships and a reputation which will leave people wanting to work with us rather than against us.
Or, as a friend of mine pointed out the other day: “You can be a great leader without being an a-hole.”
Photo credit Bill Morrow via Fickr