Kindness - A Surprising Strength
Depending on how much cable news you consume, you may get the idea that kindness is in short supply. My personal experience proves just the opposite. I encounter people who express kindness every day. Yes, there are also a few curmudgeons and even the kind ones have their prickly moments, but overall kindness seems to be the rule. I hope that's your experience too.
What about when it comes to leadership? Can you be kind and lead well? There is abundant evidence that kindness is also good for business. Employees who are treated with kindness are more motivated. Customers who are treated kindly are more inclined to return. If you want to succeed as a le
ader, you need to be kind to others.
Some may think being kind means being weak. But think of the people you know who are kind. Would you think of them as being weak? I suspect not. My list of kind people includes friends in almost every position and station of life you can imagine, including CEO's, folks at the coffee shop and fast food restaurants, managers, business owners, and policemen. That's just for starters. I've even experienced a few acts of kindness while driving in traffic as someone courteously let me merge into their lane. (Actually, I'd like to see a little more of those acts of kindness.)
As you might suspect, the Bible presents kindness as one of life's essential virtues. Those who claim to be followers of Jesus will be people who demonstrate "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Increasingly, business leaders are recognizing the value of kindness. Glenn Hubbard, dean of New York's Columbia University Business School, said, "The ability to leverage one's kindness is not a soft skill. On the contrary, it is a no-nonsense approach to business that can return hard dividends in organizational effectiveness and business performance." John Keyser of Common Sense Leadership writes, "The most successful leaders are kind and treat their team members with kindness. They realize that kindness is motivating." Far from being a weakness, the best leaders see kindness as a strength.
I'm certainly in favor of people succeeding in business but I think there's an even greater reason for displaying kindness. Kindness can transform people - the ones who receive and especially the ones who give. When you treat others with kindness, whether in your personal or professional relationships, you are sowing the seeds for the kind of world you want to live in.
Dale Turner was, for many years, a beloved pastor and columnist in Seattle, Washington. He wrote a column in the Seattle Times that was widely read. I recently remembered a quote that characterized his life and his love for people, "Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden." His spirit of kindness was a legacy passed down to his family and he influenced many people to value simple acts of kindness. Remembering him causes me to wonder if I'm leaving a legacy of kindness. I hope so.
One final thought, World Kindness Day is November 3, 2018. I'm putting it on my calendar. How about you?