Being known as a kind person has been considered by some to be detrimental to effective leadership. But the evidence would indicate that just the opposite is true.
In today’s world, kind people really do finish first when it comes to leadership.
Kindness is not weakness. It is not passive and indecisive. It simply means to be pro-actively focused on the well-being of others. It means to be on the lookout for those who need practical help, or even an encouraging word, and to then moving intentionally to respond to that need.
Such qualities are not out of place in the corridors of effective leadership. Instead, they lie at the very heart of what effective leadership should look like.
But here’s the reality. As with any other quality, being kind carries with it certain temptations that must be guarded against. If you’re a kind leader you must be vigilantly mindful of these temptations and in doing so, you must be sure that these temptations don’t creep in and diminish your effectiveness.
What are the temptations of being kind in leadership?
1. The temptation to avoid hard conversations.
Every leader needs to be able to tackle tough issues with those whom they are leading. Kind leaders need to avoid an aversion to these conversations and compensate by being disciplined and focused.
2. The temptation to avoid clarity.
Kind leaders can be so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings that they’ll shroud their comments in vague euphemisms. Every time you walk away from a conversation ask yourself, “Did I get my message across with crystal clarity?”
3. The temptation to seek approval over respect.
Kind people can sometimes walk a path that’s dangerously close to “people pleasing”. In order for kind people to be as effective as possible in their leadership they must resist the temptation to attempt to please everybody.
Kind leaders earn respect when they are effective. And out of that respect flows approval.
4. The temptation to expect too little from people.
Kind leaders can be tempted to set the expectation bar too low, such that the organization flounders in a sea of mediocrity. People will accomplish more if you set the bar high and show them how to succeed.
Avoiding these temptations doesn’t mean becoming someone you’re not. Don’t fake tough.
Instead, embrace your qualities of consideration, thoughtfulness and of seeking the welfare of others. But as you do, simply keep a mental checklist of these common temptations and don’t let them diminish your effectiveness.
Because when it comes to effective leadership, kind people really can finish first.