Leadership And Kindness
Years ago one of my mentors posed a question to me that I had never heard before: “Would you rather be kind or rather be right?”
I did not know what this person meant. She proceeded to explain that so frequently in life we are consumed with the need to be right, to prove our knowledge or expertise, to show others we have the correct answers.
Sometimes, she continued, it is OK to surrender the need to be right in favor of showing kindness to another person, whether he or she is a friend, a colleague or a member of our work team.
Having graduated from law school and been trained in coming up with the right answer all the time, I struggled with this concept as I continued my leadership journey. However, as I grew into my role as the head of continuing legal education at Georgetown Law, and working closely with experienced attorneys from private practice, corporations, and local, state and federal government, I came to see the wisdom of this advice first-hand.
So many of the lawyers with whom I worked – brilliant men and women – were so committed to being right that they trampled upon other people’s feelings, whether those people were fellow volunteers or members of our CLE team. In frequent episodes I observed a terrific lawyer making his or point – repeatedly – at the expense of someone else’s dignity.
I was reminded of this leadership lesson last week when I received my daily Harvard Business Review “Management Tip of the Day.” If you do not subscribe to this free daily bit of wisdom, I encourage you to consider doing so.
This particular tip was excerpted from “Don’t Underestimate the Power of Kindness at Work” by Ovul Selzer, et al. It stated, “The benefits of kindness at work are well documented. But how do you actually promote caring generosity on your team?
First, take the lead. People are highly attuned to the behaviors of high-status team members; when you give compliments to your employees, they’re likely to emulate your behavior.
Second, set aside time during Zoom meetings for a ‘kindness round,’ in which team members are free to acknowledge and praise each other’s work. This doesn’t need to take up much time – even just a few minutes is plenty of time to boost morale and social connection.
Finally, consider small, peer-nominated spot bonuses to allow people to recognize their colleagues’ work. If you have a limited budget, a gift card or a small gift can show appreciation that goes a long way. It’s your job as a leader to set a tone of kindness on your team. These small gestures can have a big impact.”
It is truly amazing how small acts of kindness can go so far in our workplaces. When we are the leaders, those acts carry even more weight with our team members. So, start thinking about how you can show appreciation for your teammates starting tomorrow. Kindness can help nurture strong teams.