Strong leadership and kindness are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they fit together effectively. The most successful leaders treat their team members with kindness. They realize that kindness is motivating.
Motivated team members lead to a winning organizational culture, which leads to people having pride in their work, their team and their company, which leads to outstanding results and superior client service.
In several conversations about kindness, people pointed out that what we say and do must be genuine. Yes, definitely. When I say kindness, I do not simply mean making platitudes.
Kindness includes being positive and encouraging. It also includes helping people feel good about themselves. This is a great description of leadership: how we help make someone feel, how we inspire a can-do attitude, how we help others gain confidence.
In my work with business leaders, with 360 leadership assessments and developing winning organizational cultures and teamwork, I regularly hear that people want their managers to be honest and make the time to help them learn and succeed. They realise this often means being forthright and levelling with them about areas of professional development. Yet, managers are often too busy to realize their responsibility to give constructive feedback to help their people learn and grow.
It is important to realize that giving constructive feedback, mentoring and coaching our team members and others are also acts of kindness. Everyone wants to do well and be successful. Their learning, growth and success is our responsibility as leaders just as much as it is our team members’ own responsibility.
We can give constructive feedback in a kind manner, letting our people know we genuinely care about them.
Ideally we have these conversations in person, and if we cannot be with them, we pick up the phone and call them.
John Keyser is founder and principal of Common Sense Leadership, a Washington DC based coaching firm.