If we stand together, in the Board Room, and it floods, then all our feet get equally wet. The flood waters rise at a constant level. Kindness may not flood like that.
Ask yourself where you are kinder: is it to the people that you know, the people you like, or even to the people that you need?
It makes sense if the answer is, at least to some extent, a ‘yes’. Kindness is, after all, one of the Social Currencies, and these currencies are spent within our social structures.
It’s not that i am not kind to strangers, just rather that i am more likely to be kind to the people i know, because kindness is one of the forces that bind us together.
Where i am kind to strangers, it may not be evenly distributed either: i may tend to be more kind to people who are kind of like me. People who feel close by, or at the very least do not feel threatening or too different.
The notion that Kindness may not flow evenly around a system should not come as any surprise: whilst Organisations may talk about values like ‘fairness’ and ‘kindness’ as ones that should permeate every part of the Organisation evenly, in reality, very few things are evenly distributed.
We hear talk of echo chambers: an uneven distribution of new knowledge.
We talk about inequality and gender based inequity: an uneven distribution of power, wealth, and opportunity.
We talk about opportunity: but it is often more readily available to those who already have at least some of it.
Social systems are inherently unequal, because they are inherently divided into notions of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Even if not in conflict, we are connected in subsets of a whole. Forces such as Trust and Gratitude often flow within these same uneven structures too: indeed, forces of Trust may partly cause this unevenness.
An act of Quiet Leadership may therefore be to recognise the landscape: to recognise that even if we have got it right, in terms of our behaviours of kindness, to ask ourselves if we have the distribution correct.
Or are people caught in the shadows where no kindness falls?