I’ve worked with a lot of people in leadership positions and I’ve noticed that many genuinely believe they have to be stern and authoritarian instead of being kind. It’s like they lack any self-awareness about how they affect others. This harsh approach is the result of being sold the narrative that you have to be a hard-charging bully to get anything done, the punitive approach to leadership. We even routinely reward people who do unsavory things, including hurting others.
My modest proposal would be to gradually shift from encouraging harsh behavior to celebrating self-awareness and kindness. There is nothing a severe person can accomplish that a kind person can’t. You can treat people really well and still get amazing results in your personal or professional life. You can do things that uplift others and help build a more beneficial world for everyone.
Kindness is a valuable tool that can inspire and motivate the people around you. The proof is that individuals respond much more positively to praise than they do to criticism or punishment. Praise encourages people to try harder while punishment leads to doing whatever is necessary to avoid more punishment. Our current behavioral model for our personal and professional lives is punitive. What if we shifted to being kind to each other? It might even lead to, gasp, people feeling good about themselves.
If you’re a kind person, keep doing it. You’re a vital resource and a valuable example for the individuals around you. At very least, you demonstrate that people don’t have to be punitive and harsh and that there’s another, more positive alternative. I love providing life coaching for people who value self-awareness because they know how to treat others with empathy and care.
What ideas do you have about how kind people can change the world?