Critical thinking

Kindness is the new SUPERPOWER for leaders.

Kindness is the new SUPERPOWER for leaders and one of the reasons why we need more female leaders in this new era of leadership we are entering. It’s also a new and powerful form of currency: one that we can trade for loyalty, trust, and high performance. 

However, kindness isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think about great leadership right? Well, I’m here to challenge that thought and strongly believe that leading with kindness is what will separate good leaders from great leader of the future. 

Kind leadership brings in all the different elements of authenticity, transparency, warmth, trust, and empowerment. When I talk about kind leadership, what I really mean is including a little of each of these attributes in our day-to-day leadership lives.

We have all heard of or experienced firsthand bullying, intimidation or dealing with difficult people in the workplace which can be very destructive to both people and organisations.  If leaders can create negative and toxic work environments that makes it difficult for people to grow and thrive, then I believe the opposite is also true. These are issues that have been around for a long time and will only continue until leaders step up and start leading with compassion and kindness. 

The old era of leadership was about status, title, power, dictatorship, self-serving, and having people do what you say.

The new era of leadership is about kindness, compassion, authenticity, collaboration, trust, and humility, and being a leader people choose to follow. In this new era of leadership that I keep talking about, organsations that thrive will be those who cultivate a culture of openness, mentoring,  inclusivity, build human connections and empower their people to lead with kindness.

It’s a common misconception that being a kind leader makes you a weak leader. I believe that being a kind leader requires courage and strength. Kind leaders are very capable of making good and strong business decisions – even tough decisions with kindness.   A huge part of being a great leader is understanding and valuing the people you lead. It’s about embracing the different personalities you work with and creating a culture that encourages individuals to bring their best selves to work each day. Employees want more consistent feedback, delivered with kindness; they want to build trust within their peer group, develop meaningful relationships, have a life in balance and feel bigger than just the seat they sit in.

Kindness is one of my values and is right up there when it comes to the way I have led over the 13 years in my roles as CEO. I have always made time to get to know my people, understand how I can support them to reach their goals, and how I can create an environment where people thrive. I do this because I genuinely care for people. I have always had a people first philosophy and I am a strong believer that if you look after your people the results will follow. People are your greatest asset and the heartbeat of any organisation.

Great leadership is about understanding and valuing the people you lead. It’s about embracing the different personalities you work with and creating a team, culture and environment that encourages and allows individuals to bring their best selves to work each day. Today, employees want more consistent feedback, they want to build trust amongst their peers, develop meaningful relationships and have a better work-life balance.

My role as a leader has always been to create ‘circle of safety’ for my people. Now I want to be clear on what I mean when I talk about ‘circle of safety’. ‘Circle of safety’ doesn’t mean; there aren’t boundaries or rules. It doesn’t mean that it’s a charity or you can fly under the radar, and it doesn’t mean that you accept under performance or that people can hide from their accountabilities. ‘Circle of safety’ means people feel safe and cared for, it means respecting the people you work with, it means feeling empowered to speak your truth and feeling fulfilled with the work you do. It means that people feel confident to share their voice, challenge the status quo and bring new thinking and ideas to the table. It means that when you fall over someone will be there to pick you up and it also means taking care of the people to the left of you and the people to the right of you. 

Being a kind leader is essential in today’s world – authenticity, transparency, self-awareness, warmth, and emotional intelligence are all characteristics and the building blocks to being a successful leader. It also empowers others to lead with positivity, purpose, and an open mind, and encourages innovation and collaboration. In my experience kind leadership leads to happier, collaborative, motivated, empowered and more productive teams who will be inspired to share and deliver on the goals and vision, and this can have a very real impact on the organisations success and bottom line. 

One of the greatest gifts we can give another is kindness. 

It’s time for kind leaders to step up and have a voice, and be the game-changer for our generation and future generations. We may not be able to change the past, but we can shape the future.

It’s time to shine the spotlight on leading with kindness in all areas of our lives.  

Written by Colleen Callander.

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Colleen Callander
Colleen Callander, author of Leader By Design (Major Street Publishing $29.95) and former CEO, is a renowned business and leadership coach, keynote speaker, board member and ambassador. She is also the founder of Mentor Me, a platform through which Colleen mentors women from all different walks of life.

Colleen Callander is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or connect with Colleen here.