Kindness is interesting: most people believe that it is important to be kind, and most people believe that a leader who is kind can be more effective. But we are not universally clear on ‘how’ to be kind, nor exactly what the benefits are of those who manage it.
In the research work that accompanies the Quiet Leadership journey, we see that when people respond to the free text answers, they typically use language to describe kindness that is quite anxious or uncertain: a feature that is typical when we feel unsure as to whether everyone shares our exact view and understanding of a thing.
One aspect that i try to break out in the dialogue of these sessions is to consider ‘where’ we are kindest: to those people who we know and like, or even need, or whether we are equally kind to strangers. Most people identify that we are more likely to be kind to those people we know, which does rather beg a question of whether kindness is equally available to everyone, or indeed whether kindness forms the scaffolding of bias and exclusion that we wish to avoid: not the issue in and of itself, but rather surrounding the cracks through which people fall.
We may also ask ourselves about our duty to be kind: is that duty to each other, to a community as a whole, or to an organisation that pays us?
Left untouched, we all tend to be kind, and yet our experiences of kindness tend to cluster and clump – in some situations and spaces we inherently feel that people are likely to be kind, whilst in others it would come as a surprise if they were.
Maybe this would even scale up to an Organisational view: do we want cultures that are kind and, if so, how are the social currencies traded within the walls of the Organisation. And do we need to regulate a market, or subsidise the trades?
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