I have seen all shapes and types of leaders in my workshops. There is never a program I present that I don’t learn something new from a participant. But of all the qualities that contribute to strong and impactful leadership, the one that stands out and makes the greatest impression for me is kindheartedness.
What is kindheartedness?
A few definitions are:
- Having or showing a sympathetic nature
- Friendly or generous by nature
- Arising from a kind heart
- Sharing the feelings of others
All these descriptions point to a leader who brings caring and concern for others while helping them to grow their leadership knowledge and skills. I have witnessed these leaders throughout my professional career and I continue to see them as new generations move into leadership positions. When leaders are kindhearted they will always shine in the way they cultivate future leaders.
Here are six reasons why kindheartedness makes sense:
1. IT HELPS US LEAD AUTHENTICALLY
When leaders are kindhearted they allow their core values to stay in the forefront with every choice and action. As a result they never compromise what they stand for and team members can see their deepest truths. Authentic leaders are able to show their vulnerabilities which leads to building more meaningful relationships.
2. IT REVEALS OUR TRUE MESSAGES
When we are kindhearted, leaders are able to communicate more clearly and openly with respect for others. They are able to state their needs directly while understanding colleagues’ points of view. Differences can be discussed professionally without anger or blaming. I worked with a kindhearted leader who shared the truth about the impact of a merger on her team. Because she was kind towards her team members they were more willing to be open about the enormous changes.
3. IT ALWAYS PUTS PEOPLE FIRST
A kindhearted leader recognizes that their influence lies in building relationships with team members and colleagues. While working recently with a client we ran into differences but were able to work through them by acknowledging that our human connection was more important than choosing our particular solution.
- When we put people first it is always a win-win
- Tasks can always be readjusted, but people need to be valued
- Effective leaders are more people focused than project focused
4. IT EMPOWERS OTHERS TO REACH THEIR HIGHEST LEVEL
Here is a little secret about being kindhearted– we can galvanize others to be their best. When leaders help empower co-workers to see their strengths and talents, we build credibility with others. When we believe that someone can handle greater responsibility by encouraging them to take on a stretch assignment, we help them grow in their careers.
5. IT PROMOTES A HUMAN WORKPLACE
In so many of my programs we talk about bringing humanity back to the workplace. It seems like it is missing. A kindhearted leader sees the human side of work and understands that a successful team is a team with kind hearts. As expressed in one of the definitions of kindheartedness, when we “share the feelings of others” we create camaraderie and spirit.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
6. IT MAKES OUR LEADERSHIP STRONGER
There is no more satisfying way to build our leadership than to be kindhearted because it allows us to combine humanity with performance.
- Leaders who value the people they work with give them the credit and praise they deserve
- Leaders who lead with a kind heart can inspire a team to achieve extraordinary results
- Leaders who are generous in sharing their mistakes and missteps build meaningful relationships
How do you add kindheartedness to your leadership strategy?