The New Kindness of Leadership

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

The days of the tough-as-nails boss that’s, well, a jerk, are on the way out! People are starting to realise that even if jerks may get great results on paper, they’re costing their company so much more in the damage they to do the culture and employee morale. Who wants to do business with a jerk? Who wants to do their best work for a jerk? Nobody! It’s time to start realising that niceness and kindness doesn’t mean weakness and that leaders who embrace kindness will see a big improvement in all facets of the workplace.

Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, puts it simply (and best): “People hate dealing with people who are jerks.” Studies even back this up, with studies showing that when you have a level of emotional intelligence you’re more likely to be successful and wealthy. This is because, according to Soulaima Gourani (a global career development expert), you become more valuable to a company when you can demonstrate that you’re able to connect and cooperate with others. Empathy, self-control, and dealing with diversity and conflict in a positive way will have your leaders falling over themselves to keep you, because of the influence you have on employee satisfaction (and in turn, staff retention) and company culture.

“One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice. Nice sells.” – Mark Cuban

It’s not enough to be hard-working and a good negotiator; the higher-ups in the workforce are realising that while those are good skills for a leader to have, if your leaders aren’t nice and kind then you’re not valuing your other employees’ satisfaction and wellbeing enough. This leads to large amounts of staff turnover and loses you a lot of money.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fran Hauser, author of The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate, says, “There’s actually something very wrong when kindness isn’t part of the picture when it comes to our leaders. When kindness isn’t modelled and celebrated, we find ourselves in a workplace environment that is, at worst, toxic, and at its best, fails to allow us to reach our full potential and share the best of ourselves with others.”

 “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Finding the right balance of tough and kind can be tricky, but the rewards are well worth it. You don’t have to let yourself be walked over, but being empathetic, approachable and considerate of other people’s feelings will make you a leader others will want to follow and do their best for. Treat others how you want to be treated is a saying that applies to the workplace as well, and we all need to work together to make sure that this culture of kind leadership continues to grow so that we can all benefit.

Sonia McDonald
About the author: 

Sonia McDonald is the Chief Executive Officer of LeadershipHQ, a Brisbane, Austriala-based leadership and strategy consultancy. Prior to LHQ, she was in executive management with AHRI and FutureStep/KornFerry (Asia).  Sonia was recently named as one of the Top 250 Influential Women Leaders across the globe for 2015. Her writing is read on Linkedin, Richtopia, Business Insider, Women’s Business Media and The Australian.  Follow her on Twitter.