The majority of people are born with the ability to be empathetic and to respond with kindness. Notwithstanding psychopaths of course. That makes us all well positioned to unleash some kindness out into the world.
This week, I had the pleasure of co-chairing Career Women Interaction's Women in Leadership Conference in Regina. This is my second time participating in the conference, and I was even more impressed this time with the caliber of leadership.
My, there are some wonderful leaders in our communities and workplaces who make a difference in the lives of others every day.
One of the consistent themes among the presentations was the expression of genuine kindness as a leadership trait. The keynote, Laura Wiebe, President and CEO of Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company, not only focused on kindness, but you could tell sitting near her that she is a warm and exceptionally kind person.
Let's bust the myth that women don't make good leadership candidates because they can be too nice! Leading with empathy and emotional intelligence are extremely valuable assets in the C-suite, particularly when you are asking people to undertake complex work in high pressure environments.
In fact, every single presenter talked about kindness between humans in one way or another. But for those of you who are wondering if this is really a relevant business issue (I hope none of you are), you should know it is absolutely related to the bottom line.
Michael Hoffort, President and CEO of Farm Credit Canada spoke about the interrelationship between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and profits. These are three ingredients of a virtuous circle for corporate success. The more engaged and productive your employees, the better the experience your clients have and that leads to more sales.
In my experience, the front line employees and the C-suite are usually on the same page -- the side of the customer! This is a natural allegiance for these two positions. There is a need to bring them together more frequently in order to ensure that the CEO is able to effectively lead an organization.
Kindness can be our default position, a place where many other positive leadership values can emerge and thrive. If you are wondering what this looks like in action, it is pretty simple. Greet people when you see them. Make eye contact and smile. Ask them how the weekend was and how their kids did at the hockey tournament. Offer the benefit of the doubt during conflict and be biased toward fairness and forgiveness. Give people the opportunity to grow and make things right.
And be kind to yourself too. Make sure the story you tell about yourself is a good one. Don't expose yourself to bad influences or let yourself be depleted by those who can stand to learn about kindness.
I think the first step toward kindness is slowing down. Choose a healthier pace so that you can notice yourself and notice others around you. You will find that you have many opportunities to enjoy the people around you and to reciprocate with kindness.
Did you know that monkeys are kind too?
Would you be willing to give up your grape? Fair compensation is a prevailing topic for women in leadership.
And let's not forget the importance of kindness in parenting. We all hope to be kind to our children and to raise kind human beings. We need to model this kindness and ensure that the world we live in doesn't leach the empathy from our children.
Much love, Donna
If this moves you, I invite you to join in on the conversation by posting a comment or sharing on social media.