Science Says Kindness Can Make You a Better Leader
On television we watch reality TV stars argue with each other. On social media I see people who label others over everything from political affiliations, to favorite sports teams, to what kind of car they drive. And, from my time speaking to leaders and employees, I know 'ugly' disagreements are happening in the workplace as well--many of them.
So, here are two questions for you. Can we disagree and still be kind? And, what would kindness do to your leadership?
Researchers have long studied the impact kindness can have on our own happiness--which seems like it would improve our ability to lead. Researchers at Oxford University recently analyzed hundreds of published papers that studied the relationship between kindness and happiness. They found 21 studies that explicitly prove that being kind to others makes us happier.
Another study from the University of Warwick revealed that happy people at work are 12 percent more productive than unhappy people. These are great things to know. But can kindness at work also elevate your leadership?
Since the last week of August is "Be Kind to Humankind Week" here are three ways in which Todd Nordstrom, Content director of O.C. Tanner Institute, suggest simple kindness could bring you more success as a leader at work.
1. Appreciation inspires greater results.
Being kind means you sincerely celebrate the successes of others at work. You actually care about your people. Global research from O.C. Tanner Institute, reveals that when employees were asked what the one thing their boss or company could give them that would inspire them to strive for great results, recognition was, hands down, the number one answer. It was bigger than pay increases, promotions, training, and autonomy. Celebrating the achievements of others is being kind. It turns out, it also inspires great results.
2. Connection leads to better ideas.
It would make sense that kind people would have an easier time networking and making more sincere connections--because they care about the people they meet. But, there's more to it than that. Research has also found that 72 percent of award-winning projects involve people talking to, and asking questions from, other people who may not be in their inner circle.
They care to discover the opinions of people who may not know anything about their current project, and appreciate the opinions of people who may disagree or dislike their ideas. That's kindness--gaining the perception of someone else, whether they agree with you or not.
3. Correction can improve relationships.
As leaders, sometimes it's our responsibility to let others know when they're not meeting expectations. And, corrective conversations are rarely considered to be acts of kindness. But, leaders who express kindness, and a sincere desire to help an employee become their best, build stronger relationships with their people.
In fact, a 10-year study by Harvard Business Review reveals that the number one reason holding back second-rate executives is their inability to create trusting relationships.
We live in a world with a lot of disagreement. We all have our own opinions, ideas, and perceptions. Within .45 seconds a Google search of Leadership returned 2,090,000,000 results. Obviously, there's a seemingly endless amount of information we all could learn about becoming better leaders.
However, the moment we forget that our first responsibility as a leader is to actually care about the success of others, is the moment we fail. This starts with simple kindness--in life and at work.
Remember. . .
How you impact people depends on how you treat them. Practice kindness and your circle of influence will grow.
Ralph Waldo Emerson may have said it best. "You can not do a kindness to soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
P.S. To be kind, you need to be calm. If you want to know more about how to calm yourself, you can learn more by following the suggestions in a booklet and audio guided meditations I have prepared. You will learn how to control your emotions and reactions in any circumstance. And you will be able to do this in 10 minutes or less! Of course, to be able to do this, you will need to practice what is shared here on a regular basis. Here is the link where you can learn all about it: http://bit.ly/calm-2nr