World Kindness Day may have come and gone. However, kindness offers a fantastic return on investment every day of the year, leading to better leadership, more productive teams, and a more fulfilling life at both work and home.
Critics often equate kindness in leadership to weakness. But kindness does not necessarily preclude strong leadership. In fact, Harvard Business School research indicates that leaders who project compassion and warmth are more effective leaders even before establishing any sort of credibility or competence than those who rule with an iron fist. Furthermore, the connection between great leadership and kindness goes further than interpersonal relationships with employees. Studies also indicate that it can increase employee performance.
Oxford University researchers analyzed hundreds of studies that looked at the link between kindness and happiness. They found 21 studies that explicitly show that being kind makes people happier. Additionally, University of Warwick research indicates that happy people are 12 percent more productive at work than their unhappy counterparts.
So, what exactly does kindness mean in workplace leadership? It doesn’t mean that you don’t fire people. It also doesn’t mean you don’t make the hard decisions when it comes to the company’s bottom line. And, it doesn’t mean more work, either. All it means is that you’re focusing as much on message delivery and the audience as on the message itself.
Here are 3 ways that kindness can make you a stronger leader and more successful at work.
Sincerely celebrate and care about the successes of others at work. O.C. Tanner Institute’s research found that employees overwhelmingly felt that recognition was the top thing their company or leaders could do to inspire them to elevate their performance. Appreciation and recognition beat out promotions, pay raises, training and autonomy.
Kind people are naturally better at networking and making sincere connections, because they genuinely care about other people. Inc. found that 72 percent of award-winning projects involve people interacting with other people who are not in their social or work circles. Consequently, they were able to gain and implement perspective from people who may not know anything about the project and may disagree or even dislike their ideas.
Offering Constructive Corrections
Leaders are tasked with letting others know when they’re falling short of expectations. Leaders who show kindness and a genuine desire to help employees do their best end up building better relationships as a result of these corrections. A 10-year Harvard Business Review study found that the inability to build trust in relationships was the number one thing holding second-rate executives back from advancing further in their careers.
There’s an endless amount of qualities, training, and information to help become a better leader. However, the moment that sincerely caring about the success of others falls to the wayside is the moment that leaders start to fail.
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