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The Kind Leader Newsletter #7

Welcome to The Kind Leader Newsletter #7!

Tip #7: Ask about others!

Leaders, I have a challenge for you! Please take out a piece of paper, and for each one of your team members, write down one thing that they are passionate about outside of work, and one thing each of them is struggling with. If you find that you don’t know, don’t be surprised. Often, leaders focus solely on business in conversations and meetings and forget to actually get to know the people who work for them as … well … people! There’s an easy fix for that though! Start out each conversation and business meeting by first asking a specific question about the other person, such as “I know your son had COVID. How is he doing?”

As a leader, it’s easy to become so hyper-focused on targets, metrics and whether the organization is meeting its goals, that you forget the people who work for you are human beings. With family, friends, passions, struggles and challenges outside of the organization. Starting out conversations and meetings with specific questions about people’s lives shows that you care about people not simply for what value they bring to the organization, but because they are valued and valuable human beings.

What do you think?

What do you know about the struggles and challenges your team members are going through?

How often do you ask about others’ lives outside of work?

Please share your ideas in the comments!

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This week’s Kind Leader research focuses on defining kindness, compassion and empathy!

As we discussed in The Kind Leader Newsletter #5, Emotional Intelligence is as important for leaders as business acumen! This week, we’re going to dive a little deeper into the difference between empathy (part of Emotional Intelligence), compassion and kindness, and how practicing kindness can help leaders become more empathetic and compassionate.

Empathy: Empathy, like compassion, is based in feelings. For most of us, the easiest explanation of empathy is the effort to understand someone else’s experience by thinking about what it would be like to be in their place and to feel like they are feeling.

Compassion: Compassion takes empathy to another level of feeling. As Hope Arnold, LCSW, MA states: “Compassion is characterized by the qualities of sympathy, empathy, and concern. It emphasizes nonjudgmental thinking toward self and others, validation, distress tolerance, and acceptance of what is occurring. Compassion is oriented toward healing, alleviating suffering and acknowledging that all humans suffer.” (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/radical-hope/2020/06/the-difference-between-kindness-and-compassion/)

Kindness: Kindness is active. It’s not just a feeling, but a way of thinking, speaking and acting towards others, and yourself. By thinking, speaking and acting kindly, we improve both our ability to be kind…and to feel empathy and compassion, through our actions towards others and ourselves. Because ‘doing changes thinking’, acting kindly is a great way to help you, as a leader, develop empathy and compassion towards those who work for you.

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Thank you all for reading the Kind Leader Newsletter! Please send me your thoughts and experiences practicing kind leadership so I can use them in The Kind Leader book and pass them on to others in the Newsletter!

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The Kind Leader Newsletter #6




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The Kind Leader Newsletter #5



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The Kind Leader Newsletter #4

Welcome to The Kind Leader Newsletter #4!

Tip #4: Let others go first. 

As a team member, have you ever been excited to go to your one-on-one meeting with your manager, only to find that fifty-five out of the sixty minutes are taken up by them telling you all about their work instead of listening to you? Even when the stated purpose of the meeting is to hear how you are doing and what YOU want to talk about? As a team member, you probably felt disappointed and that you weren’t treated kindly. Plus, your questions and concerns may not have been addressed.

Those in leadership roles often develop the habit of speaking first. However, letting others speak first gives leaders both the opportunity to hear what people have to say, and also to make them feel cared for and important.

As a leader, letting others go first also applies to situations where people are entering and exiting the room, getting seated and lining up for meals. Although people may defer to your title and usher you to the front of the line, letting others go first role shows the respect that you have for your team members.

Letting others go first doesn’t diminish your leadership, it models caring, respect and kindness.

What do you think?

How often do you let others speak first?

What other situations could you let others go first in?

Please share your ideas in the comments!

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This week’s Kind Leader Tip was inspired by IT Leader Craig Delmage.

Here are some other suggestions from Craig for kind ways to meet with team members:

When I have my regular one on one meetings with my team members, I always let them go first – discuss anything that is on their mind or that they want to discuss with me. It can be business or personal. By letting them go first, it sends a signal that what they have to say is important to me. I may prompt them with some initial open-ended questions such as “How are things going for you?” or “How is your new baby?” or “Are you managing work/life balance ok?”

At the end of their items I will check in with them with questions such as “Have I made any decisions lately that you have disagreed with?” to make sure that we are in synch.

If there is time left in our meeting, then I may bring up any items that I wish to cover. Overall, I find that this approach works very well, and I have become closer to my team members – both on a work and personal front – as a result.

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Thanks, Craig, for sending your Kind Leader tip!

And thank you all for reading the Kind Leader Newsletter! Please send me your thoughts and experiences practicing kind leadership so I can use them in The Kind Leader book and pass them on to others in the Newsletter!

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The Kind Leader Newsletter #2

Welcome to The Kind Leader Newsletter #2!

Tip #2: Give people your undivided attention.  

As a leader, you’re probably pretty busy. It can be tempting to multi-task by checking your phone or computer while talking with people. Especially if you feel like the person is ‘taking too long to get to the point’ or if you think you have more important things to do. However, constantly looking down at your phone, your computer or smartwatch isn’t a kind way to act. Constantly checking electronics and looking away makes people feel like what they are saying, and who they are, is unimportant.

So, whether you are talking with someone one-on-one, or you’re in a meeting, please make sure to give people your full and undivided attention.

Make eye contact, lean forward into the conversation, put your phone away and shut off your computer. Even if you think that what the person is telling you isn’t most important to you. Because chances are, what they’re telling you is most important to them.

As a leader, one of the kindest ways to show people how important they are is to give them your full and undivided attention.

That’s this week’s Kind Leader newsletter!

What do you think…

How often do you check your devices while someone is talking to you or in meetings?

What can you do to remind yourself not to look at your phone, computer or watch ?

Please share your ideas in the comments!

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The Kind Leader Newsletter #3

Welcome to The Kind Leader Newsletter #3!

Tip #3: Find something to compliment in each person’s work.  

Twice last week, someone sent me something they had written to review. “Poke holes in it”, they said. “I want you to tell me what could be improved!” After reading both documents, here’s what I replied: “Your document looks great! Well thought out and written. Why don’t you just go ahead and send it out?!” A short while later, I received a version of the same, surprised response from both people: “Wow’” they said. “It’s been a long time since someone’s complimented my work! I’m so used to negative feedback I didn’t remember how great it feels to get a compliment!”

As a leader, it’s easy to forget how much weight your words carry. And what a huge difference your kind words and compliments mean to people.

So, even if the work your team member has done isn’t exactly as you imagined it, make sure you take time to actively and genuinely find something to compliment in it. If you aren’t used to doing this, you will find that it takes time, and practice. You’ll need to slow down and think about your team member’s effort and feelings first. And, if the work really misses the mark, you’ll have to ask yourself why, and how you can help them do better next time.

As a leader, please remember, your words stay in people’s minds and hearts for a long time. Please make sure they are kind ones.

What do you think? What do you do?

How often do you compliment your team members’ work?

How can you practice responding kindly, even if the result isn’t exactly what you expected?

Please share your ideas in the comments!

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This week’s Kind Leader research update

Like anything else we want to get better at, being a Kind Leader takes practice. And that’s not just my opinion, it’s science. In her article “Kindness and Brain: What is the Impact of Kindness in Brain Functioning” Daniela Silva shares that every kind act changes the brain in a number of ways including:

  • Increasing the production of ‘feel-good’ hormones dopamine and oxytocin in the brain of both the person who acts with kindness and the person who receives it
  • Activating the ‘reward’ system of the brain to produce feelings of happiness and satisfaction in both the person acting kindly and the person receiving the kindness
  • Changing the functioning of the prefrontal cortex to increase the number of neural connections allowing neural pathways and habits of kindness to form

So, the best way to start being a Kind Leader, is actually to start! And then to deliberately practice acting kindly on a regular basis. Finding something to genuinely compliment in each team member’s work is a great place to start your practice! It may feel strange at first, but, as science tells us, it will soon become a habit!

Daniela Silva. “Kindness and Brain: What is the Impact of Kindness in Brain Functioning”. EC Neurology 5.4 (2017): 146-148.

That’s this week’s Kind Leader newsletter!

Look forward to seeing you next week!

 

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The Kind Leader Newsletter

The Kind Leader Newsletter #1

Welcome to the Kind Leader Newsletter!

As a Kind Leader Newsletter subscriber, each week you’ll receive information on the research that I’m doing and updates on interviews and insights that I’m having as I write my new book The Kind Leader: A Practical Guide to Leading with Kindness.

You’ll also get a Practical Tip to use immediately and share with others. Because everyone can start leading with kindness right now!

Tip #1: Being kind is a great stress reducer!

There’s a lot of stress going around lately. With all the changes in work from COVID-19, layoffs and job losses, worries about health of family members and friends, and anxiety about politics and elections. Tempers are frayed and it’s easy to think, speak and act unkindly.

As a leader, you can help reduce the stress of people that you lead (and your own) by speaking and acting kindly. Ask people how they and their family are doing. Then take the time to listen fully to their answer. Don’t check your phone or look at your watch. Look them in the eye and pay attention. If there is help you can offer, offer it. If there isn’t, just simply taking the time to listen is a great – and kind – way to help!

That’s this week’s Kind Leader newsletter!

What do you think…

How do you and your leaders show kindness to help reduce stress?

What do you think leaders can do to speak and act more kindly to reduce team members’ stress?

Please share your ideas in the comments!

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