One of these behaviors has a bigger impact on success.
In the post pandemic era, what type of leadership will enable businesses to succeed? The answer uncovered in newly released research from Signature Consultants; is kindness.
Research explains the big difference between kind and nice. While the meanings may seem to some to be interchangeable, there are key differences between being kind and being nice. According to the research, leading with kindness is the most effective leadership style to drive innovation and competitive advantage.
Think about a time you were kind to yourself or to someone close to you. How did it make you feel? How did it make them feel? Now hold onto that idea.
What’s the difference between nice and kind?
Being kind feels completely different, doesn’t it? Being kind is more of an internally driven approach to human interaction. Being kind means we see someone else for who they are and like it or not, we can still treat them kindly. It feels more genuine, heartfelt, and grounded in a personified human experience.
Here’s a definition of both from Mahfuz Ahmed, CEO of DISYS, a global services and staffing firm: “Kind leadership is defined by our research as creating a culture of taking concrete action to help others, addressing a person’s need, regardless of tone, and giving permission for real success and failure. Niceness, by contrast, typically centers on pleasing others and being polite so as not to offend.”
He goes on to say, “Research shows a direct causal relationship between the height of a company’s kindness quotient score and the degree to which it is able to foster an environment of innovation. In fact, an organization is five times more likely to be considered innovative if it is also considered kind.”
Being nice is easy. Being kind takes work.
Generally, kindness includes being nice. Being nice does not necessarily include being kind.
At some point in your life, you have probably been told to “be nice” — or told someone else the same. You may also have been taught to value the concept of kindness. We may not realize, though, that these two are not interchangeable – and can affect the people around us in very different ways.
Usually, niceness involves doing something that is pleasing or agreeable. By contrast, kindness is doing something that is helpful to others, or that comes from a place of compassion. Kindness is often expressed through actions that you take for other people, while niceness typically involves more superficial words or simple gestures. A nice person may tell a neighbor that they are sorry that they are sick — while a kind person may drop off some soup or offer to pick up groceries for them.
Kind people go beyond what’s expected of them. And they do it without any expectation of getting something in return. They do it because of who they are and their vision of the world they want to live in.
Nice vs. Kind: Why Does It Matter?
In the study, workers were asked to identify the leadership style that best leads to a more innovative work environment. Respondents ranked “leads with kindness” first among other leadership styles, including leading with authority, empathy, courageousness, and risk-taking.
Further, respondents who said their current company’s leadership style was one that “puts kindness before anything else” were most likely to agree that this leadership style has led to more of a competitive advantage in the marketplace. And when kindness is considered a core value of the organization, employees are 3.5 times more likely to share a sense of purpose between their job and the company’s larger goals.
I see many people in customer service who are trained to be nice but fail to act kindly. You cannot be taught to be kind. Being kind comes from caring enough for others that you want to do something for them. Kindness allows us to be authentic and caring at the same time. Niceness is overrated. Be kind instead. Kindness is about having our hearts in the right place. It’s about wanting the best for others and for ourselves. It has nothing to do with being liked.
Kindness is expressed in the actions you take
Leadership is about outcomes and others. Your job as a leader is to move the team in the direction of some desired outcomes, whether a vision, a strategy or some goals. Yet you can’t do that alone. Those on your team and in your organization are required to reach those outcomes. As a leader, everything we do must be done in service of both outcomes and others. That means we can have high standards and be considerate. We can be clear and compassionate. We can have clear expectations and be empathetic.
Kindness requires that we speak up on crucial matters. It allows us to let people face their reality and grow from it. Everyone has leadership capabilities–whether you are already in that role or developing that skill set. As a self-reflection ask yourself these questions:
● Do I take concrete action to help others?
● Do I take the time to understand and address a person’s needs?
● Do I give others permission for success or, more importantly, failure?
To read Mahfuz Ahmed’s article in Fast Company here is the link.
For more information on the research into kind leadership at work go to Humankindex.