Written by: Ágnes Vad, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
When you ask me about my 'worst' memories from my multinational background, I will most likely tell you that I hated the periods when I was treated (along with others) as' numbers in an excel sheet.' This expression covers a full emotional context, I did not feel treated as a human being with thoughts and emotions but rather like an inorganic object to be moved at someone's will.
I started to ask myself whether an organization can create and maintain an organizational culture that delivers results while holding human dignity at its core? Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake and treated ethically. Why does Dignity fade away when an organization reaches a larger scale? Because in the beginning, most companies like to state that' human is our core pillar' that is, along with other well-sounding statements, often hanged on the office walls. However, when these organizations reach a particular size, this pillar will suddenly be de-prioritized or at least infrequently practiced.
An employee, like me, might start to feel that her human values are not attractive anymore. In addition, the pressure might also come that you need to improve.
And how does all this story connects to kindness in leadership? Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others without expecting praise or reward. In short, kindness is a human quality that is favorable when a leader can use it. Practicing kindness will let others know they are loved and respected and has an internal motivation.
However, kindness as quality is rarely short-listed among the top leadership qualities. In fact, it's often considered a weakness. This understanding may come from the common misbelief that kindness is equivalent to niceness or Kind means weak. Neither is correct.
Kindness is different from empathy too. Empathy is our feeling of awareness toward other people's emotions and an attempt to understand how they feel, while kindness is rather an action toward the person in need. Note that as a leader, it is crucial to be empathic; however, in this article, we focus on kindness more.
More and more studies prove that kind leadership also means good business. According to a study by Warwick University, kindness has been proven to impact people's happiness, and happier people are 12% more productive.
Professor Oswald from Warwick University said:
"Companies like Google have invested more in employee support, and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%; they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off."
It's becoming a well-known fact that happier employees will do a better job, so happiness means increased workplace productivity.
Luckily, we do have living examples around us. Think of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who has shown outstanding leadership not only in the recent pandemic period but during her entire career.
So, what do kind leaders do that makes them exceptional?
1. Kind leaders are concise and direct about their strategy – they are transparent about their decisions.
This approach allows them to act swiftly while they openly communicate the thinking behind the actions.
2. Kind leaders treat people like people.
It sounds like a no-brainer. However, it is easy to mistreat people in a business environment that often is filled with stress. Kind leaders keep the human tone under pressure or in critical periods. In practice, they do pay attention to people, their most important resources, and their needs. They smile, say thank you, celebrate others' success, cultivate teamwork, and admit when they make mistakes. They have a strong belief that, together with the people, they do the right things.
3. Kind leaders cultivate growth.
They create an environment where trust can be born. This environment will help to embrace new ideas, and new ideas will lead to new results. When employees know what they are doing well and what needs to be improved, then personal growth is encouraged, and as a result, employees will be more accountable for their actions.
4. Kind leaders practice humor often.
Having the ability to practice humor, even in difficult times, creates hope. Hope is a positive environment where activities and next steps can already be born – humor is a way to find the path to the solution.
5. Kind leaders provide honest feedback.
First of all, kind leaders know that to provide honest and immediate feedback, they need to create an environment where employees feel genuinely cared about and supported. In such an environment, feedback is viewed as a 'normal thing.' Kind leaders want to see all employees succeed, feel supported, and focus on their goals and they are aware that behaviors can change. Kind leaders are conscious about the words that they choose. They use a non-authoritative tone, treat the employee well and use compassion. They provide specific examples of behaviors that need to be addressed and give employees time to process and respond to the feedback.
I always say that leading others is more than just a' technique' – leadership, especially Kind leadership, is a way of life. Be aware that Kindness shows you care, and you simply can't fake it.
Yet, coaching can help you learn how to utilize your inner kindness – at work and in your life.
Ágnes Vad, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Ágnes Vad is a certified human potential and business coach with 18 years in marketing and 10+ years in cross-cultural leadership roles. Ágnes started her professional career in the multinational world in the marketing domain and built her thorough business acumen in parallel via the international leadership roles she was promoted to. She has been showing passion for working and leading people starting from the beginning of her career. She is a proud winner of the Leadership and Marketing Awards at her company. After 18 years, she decided to follow her passion and became a coach entrepreneur in 2019. In the last 2.5 years, she became an experienced and recognized professional in the coaching domain and has cc. 500 hours of coaching experience. She works with individuals and also with teams as a coach. She focuses on activating and maximizing human and leadership potential, emotional intelligence (EQ), mindfulness, and resilience.