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By Sean Stevenson – Latest Revision December 21st, 2020
Kindness in leadership consistently produces exceptional results.
Studies have shown us repeatedly that happier workers are far more productive than their unsatisfied counterparts.
Kind leadership is a necessity in the modern workplace. Effective leadership uses positive motivators to spur efforts and manage expectations.
When mistakes are made, they must be learned from. There is never a need to be overbearing or ignorant towards an otherwise productive employee.
By reinforcing a culture of kindness and offering fair leadership practices, we can create a profound model of personable management that produces superior results.
In this guide I will lay out the important strategies and key benefits of kind leadership.
A Foreword On Fear
In today’s business world, the number one fear that employees have is being terminated without any warning.
The underlying stresses associated with the idea of embarrassment or public failure ranks a close second.
Overwhelmingly, employees associate the causation of being fired or suffering embarrassment with unfair management practices. In many toxic workplace cultures, there is a pervading sense of unrealistic demands being regularly made. Employees are left with conflicting roles, imbalanced workloads, lacking support, and little to no real training.
Unfortunately, in our fast-paced business world, kindness is often seen as something of a weakness. Many cling to archaic ideas of authoritarian leadership at all costs, rather than engage effectively with key stakeholders.
Conceptually, there are millions of people worldwide who suffer with acute workplace stress. This represents a real underlying causation of medical distress that has become the focus of many modern studies. It manifests as a harmful reaction that many individuals suffer from due to the incessant pressures and demanding workloads of their job.
-Karl Augustus Menninger
Stresses In The Workplace
One of the primary causes of intense workplace stress is a lack of training or foreknowledge. Without adequate training, a worker can only try their best and essentially “guess” as to how to best proceed.
Whenever there are significant gaps in employee knowledge or operational sustainability, workers are left to roll the dice. They feel a sense of duty and the need to perform, without having been given the resources to do so effectively.
This is the leading cause of stress and dysfunction within the workplace. Without adequate support, planning, and management, an organization is leaving itself vulnerable to future calamity. This incident could take many forms: from lost customers, to equipment malfunction, or even serious injury.
Kind leadership solves these unfair practices by balancing management with personable interventions. By bringing elements of authenticity, building trust, and establishing employee-driven empowerment, powerful precedents can be created. In this way, kind leadership can spur rapid workplace advancements towards goals that were previously inaccessible.
An effective leader using this method will set clear and reasonable expectations, while offering support throughout the process to enhance and promote employee growth. An open-door policy is a sterling example of what it means to be a kind leader. The only way to grasp the strengths and weaknesses of your colleagues is to become keenly aware of who they are.
Setting a kinder precedent
By setting a precedent of transparency and openness, you will be setting a paradigm that ensures productivity. The goal is to guide others through success and failure, so that important work-related goals can be achieved more readily with experience. Moreover, with such careful oversight, you will be able to catch significant mistakes before they happen.
This is not to say that kind leadership is without accountability in terms of individual work ethic. On the contrary, a kind leadership still demands consistent results from all its people. Yet this is also best achieved through providing factual, honest, and sincere feedback to promote improvement. When employees are taught about desirable professional behaviors in a transparent fashion, they are being empowered to challenge themselves and fulfill greater expectations in their day-to-day.
This is the power of positivity in management and is a core pillar of effective kind leadership.
The best results in scientific study have always come from positive reinforcement. This dates back to the first Pavlovian trials that displayed the power of positive reinforcement in canines. Pavlov’s classical lessons in conditioning remain as a prevalent backdrop for psychology. By using control strategies and underlying philosophies rooted in the positive, we can alter behavioral reactions.
In this sense, human beings are no different from Pavlov’s own canine experiments. Ask yourself; would you rather be treated positively for your successes, or would you feel the need to have someone berate your efforts by finding small mistakes? The answer is (hopefully) clear. By reinforcing positive traits and offering fair feedback for lackluster ones, we are steering our colleagues towards greater success.
Ideally, kind leadership extends itself outside of the workplace. Promoting personal relationships both within and outside of the workplace is of crucial importance to developing powerful teams of people. Even if efforts outside of work are limited to simple texts, or the sharing of memes, such a simple gesture of social amiability can go a long way to securing loyalty. After all, if it is between someone you barely know or someone who enjoys your company, who is more likely to listen?
Kind Leadership Pays Off
By setting an example as a kind leader, you will already be influencing those negative trends back towards the positive. A culture will veer towards becoming more resilient, transparent, and readily engaged, when it has a key leadership figure to rally around.
Studies have even gone so far to show that happy employees are up to 12% more productive than their dissatisfied counterparts.
This is yet another staggering revelation in kind leadership. Not only do the basic practices of courtesy improve relationships, but it also increases our productivity! This again flies in the face of more traditionalist managerial views. The guidance for management in many organizations is changing as a result of increasing awareness about the nature of business itself. The implications for what is possible when an enlightened business approach is taken are already providing exciting insights.
Anyone who undertakes this role of kind leadership is providing employees with a way forward. We all long for that friendly figure who helps us along on our path. The irony is that many of us do not realize that we ourselves can be that figure for others (and even ourselves to an extent).
By ensuring the relative safety and comfort of others in the workspace, you will be ensuring that others can use their time effectively. Gone will be the drama, the in-fighting, the needless redundancy that previously hampered collaborative efforts.
Conclusion - Improving Existing Trends
While many workplace cultures tend to be populated with cynical individuals, this is merely a reflection of a prevalent attitude that has gone unchecked.
By striving to make your workplace emotionally healthy, your workforce will come to thrive as a direct result in time.
Set the groundwork in the present day for future amiability with others, and you will be creating conditions for a positive future. It is entirely desirable and possible to enjoy productive comradery. This is the mantra of kind leadership in action. It demands careful study.
By adhering to principles rooted in kind leadership, we all stand to benefit greatly in the coming years.
There is a sense that newer, more enlightened variants of leadership can bring about a new age of productivity. For our purposes, this represents a huge opportunity going forward.
There is nothing to stop any of us from improving ourselves and our organizations for the better.
Older management styles have their merit, certainly. Yet it is continually the newer variants that are rooted in a more scientific approach which reveal how much potential we have yet to fully realize. In both ourselves and in others, there is no limit to what can be achieved.
If heightened productivity is your goal, then kind leadership has something to offer you. If you simply wish to create a powerful foundation for your team to grow from, then kind leadership again can assist you in the endeavor. If you simply wish to change your own behavior, then again, there is something here for to be learned.
We each have nothing to lose by submitting ourselves to a kinder leadership approach. The gains can be substantial, both economically and personally. All it takes is a little bit of effort.
To be the best, you must practice consistently. Leadership exercises are a highly actionable means of improving your organization’s capabilities. Think of them as a series of drills, or a form of training.
The ability to delegate effectively and influence the outcome is a prerequisite for managing others in a meaningful way. Elements of leading are not complicated, though they are a skill that requires practice like any other.