A recent conversation with a CSL (Community Support Leader (Manager)) got me thinking about the concept of kindness in leadership. When we think of the qualities of leadership, we often leave kindness out, it just not a trait that springs to mind right way, and yet it is really important for leaders within organisations.

The CSL had been providing some coaching with one of her staff and was talking about how it is possible to manage assertively, and the same time be kind. The concept of kindness in leaders came up at Thera East Anglia’s recent Senior Support Worker (SSW) development day; it is clear that our SSWs feel that it is a vital quality, and one they like to see in the people who lead them. 

Personally, I have always found it important to show a little kindness, and to consider how those difficult conversations can be tackled whilst still demonstrating kindness: this, the CSL I was chatting with, and the SSW development day got me looking at the subject.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines kindness as…

“the quality of being generoushelpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality

Andrea Goodridge – Leadership Coach, says that kindness in an organisation is essential in order to build trust and increase engagement in teams. She lists some of the behaviours you might see in kind leaders. 

  • Championing inclusion
  • Showing compassion for and empathy with people’s personal issues
  • Treating every member of your organisation with respect
  • Having a personal touch in your communications with others

Andrea says that when a leader shows kindness in their approach, others are much more likely to be open and honest: this way, leaders can get to the root causes when things go wrong. https://adflorem.com/blog/kindness-in-leadership/

Emily Marsh of t-three.com says that kind leaders are good leaders…

“Kind leadership brings in all the different elements of authenticity, transparency, warmth, building trust, and empowering people. So, when we talk about kindness, what we really mean is including a little of each of these different subsections of being a good leader in your day-to-day approach and intent.

Part of being ‘good’ at leadership is understanding and valuing what’s going on with the people you lead. It’s about understanding the personalities you work with and creating a team, culture and a business that is flexible enough and encouraging enough to invite individuals to be themselves at work.

This is so important. The expectation that you have one persona at home and one persona at work has gone. We bring our whole selves to work, and life doesn’t stop at the door, we all need to feel safe and comfortable in that space, no matter what the day brings. In that sense, leaders need a certain level of emotional intelligence to understand where people are and what matters to them. https://www.t-three.com/thinking-space/blog/kind-leadership-matters“.

It doesn’t take much effort to check in on someone who is having a hard time, in or outside of work. Telling someone what they have just done is great takes moments and can mean a lot to the recipient. Having those tricky conversations but in a kind way, and in the way you would want them handled if you were the person on the receiving end requires some emotional intelligence – a skill that can be built on. Taking anyone’s worries seriously is a kind way to lead. An organisation with a no blame culture is a kind organisation, and one led by kind leaders. 

I think we work in an organisation that values kindness in its leadership.

Justin Smith

Operations Manager for Thera East Anglia