The Benefits of Being Kind

Al Capone once said that you can get much farther in life with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. 

 

I suppose he believed that but if you’re an Authentic Leader you don’t need the gun. Your influence along with a kind word will be more than enough to get you wherever you want to go. It will also be key in convincing your people to make the journey with you. 

 

I once knew a guy in a leadership position who was certain that being kind was a weakness. He frequently said he didn’t need to waste time on kindness because his people had no choice but to do what they were told. He was of course wrong. So wrong in fact that he’s not in a leadership position any longer. He doesn’t torment people who work for him anymore but I’m pretty confident he still torments himself on a regular basis. 

 

Being kind to others is good business. But kindness is about way more then business. I would submit that it’s impossible to live a happy and fully productive life without being kind to others. 

 

Being kind allows you to cope and overcome stressful situations. Being kind let’s you pay less attention to yourself and your problems. Doing something for the benefit of someone else takes your focus off of you and puts it on someone else. 

 

A truly kind person does not have ulterior motives for being kind. They are loving and giving out of the goodness of their heart. Kind people have a high level of self-esteem and because they love themselves first it let’s them care about others too. 

 

Kind people expect to be treated with respect and that expectation is often met. Kind people don’t have anything to prove to other people so they get to be themselves. Being kind allows you to be comfortable in your own skin. 

 

Just so we’re clear don’t mistake being nice with being kind. They are not the same. Being nice means treating people well and being polite. Being kind requires that you care for people and have the courage to show it. 


You can be nice to people while also be unkind. Don’t make that mistake. Care for others, show kindness whenever and wherever you can. It’s one of the kindest things you can do….for yourself! 


The One True Prerequisite of Leading

You must have a follower!

 

No matter what your title happens to be, no matter how lofty your position may be within your organization if no one is following you then you are not leading. Period!

 

It’s probably the number one leadership mistake I see and I see it often, very very often. People believe that it’s their title or position that makes them a leader. This misnomer is especially common with people new to a position of leadership. 

 

But here is the absolute fact: titles and positions on an organizational chart do not make you a leader. The people following you make you a leader. 

 

You can be promoted to a position with a fancy title that makes it sound like you are a leader but you must earn the right to truly lead. No one, absolutely no one can promote you to the position of Leader, that can only come from the people you would lead and you must constantly demonstrate that you’re worthy of it.

 

The fastest way to demonstrate that is by showing your people that you care about them. Bringing donuts to the meeting is nice but a drone could do that. 

 

Showing you care requires that you connect with your people in a meaningful way. If you’re in a leadership position then I have some questions for you… How much do you REALLY know about the people you claim to lead? Do you know their goals, their needs, their hopes and desires for their future?

 

Do you know what their life struggles are outside of work? Did you ever consider those struggles may affect their work performance? Did you ever consider that maybe, just maybe you could help them, coach them or perhaps just offer them someone to talk to?

 

Leadership is about people and to earn the right to lead you’re going to have to be willing to SHOW you care. You must be willing to invest a piece of yourself in someone else’s life. You see, when you make a difference in your business you’re a manager and that’s great but when you make a difference in the life of someone else you’re a leader and that’s better, much much better.


If you’re in a leadership position it’s a good idea to turn around once in a while to see if anyone is really following. If they are not then it’s possible, actually likely that the people who could be following you have decided that you simply don’t care enough to truly lead.


A Culture of Caring

Every now and then I’ll receive a tweet or a response to a blog post that says the stuff I write sounds good in theory but it isn’t realistic in today’s business world. 

 

In particular people seem to take issue with my frequent statements that you can’t truly lead people until and unless you truly care about them.

 

I’m told “caring” is a sure path to failure. It’s a weakness that no business can afford today. They say that caring for your people is a luxury of bygone eras. Some people have even told me caring about your people is just plain stupid. 

 

I generally don’t respond, or I respond with a recommendation that they at least give caring a chance. But last week after reading a really terrible tweet I told the person that I was really glad I didn’t work for them and then in the spirit of practicing good human relations I told them I hoped they enjoyed the cave they were living in.

 

Okay, so that might not have been Dale Carnegie style human relations but the guy was pretty abusive with his comment. 

 

In my opinion, if we ever get to the point where caring about our fellow human beings indeed becomes impractical then we might as well hang it up. Would there be any point to living if we couldn’t care about people anymore? It doesn’t matter if we’re talking life in general or we’re talking business in particular, caring is never wrong and it’s never a weakness.

 

The fact is that the more you build a culture of caring within your organization the more stable and successful, and by successful I also mean profitable, your organization will be. I am completely at a loss when trying to understand people who seem to sincerely believe that you can get more out of people by treating them like dirt than you can get by treating them like the valued human beings that they actually are.

 

I will never understand how a “leader” could expect their people to take care of customers when those same people are not cared about by their leader. It just doesn’t work. It has never worked and I can’t imagine how it ever could. 

 

If you’re a leader who expects your people to care about your customers enough to provide them with top quality customer service then you better be a leader who consistently demonstrates how much you care about your people.

 

People who aren’t cared about, who don’t know with some degree of certainty that they are cared about, are far less likely to care themselves. 


A culture of caring will never weaken your organization, it can only strengthen it.  Don’t even think about believing otherwise.