Nice and Successful

Unfortunately, business is often seen as a choice between being nice and being successful. But this is a fictitious trade-off.

Nice people are actually more successful, and evidence abounds to prove it. When a business consciously and consistently makes being nice their mantra, they not only exponentially spread kindness but also see the benefits flow right back to them!  Especially in the high stress, world economy, layered by global recessionary conditions, bucking the trend toward cutthroat competitiveness allows a business to distinguish itself.

Factors like a high reciprocity reserve, a strong reputation for customer care, and the power of a positive personality make for a sustainable, and successful, business model.

~Kristin Tillquist

(Thank you for your contribution this week, Kristin. With love, the CommonKindness Team.)

Does Kindness Make You More Successful?

If you had the choice, would you choose to be kind or to be successful? Many people see life, particularly in respect to business, as a choice between the two. We hear it when people say, “Good guys finish last” or “no good deed goes unpunished,” right?

You know that being successful takes many things—determination, intelligence, well-defined goals, and even a little good luck. But, are you aware that kindness also creates success? In fact, you need kindness more than anything else to be successful.

A caring attitude toward others underpins great leadership, builds cohesive teams, encourages listening and effective communication, provides a safe platform necessary for solving problems, stimulates creativity, drives efficient customer service, and inspires quality workmanship. In a kind environment, people are at ease and can show up to do their best work. A sense of loyalty is possible.

In her book, “Capitalizing on Kindness,” author Kristen Tillquist lays out the facts and statistics that demonstrate the economic impacts of caring and kindness on bottom lines. She writes, “To be successful in the 21st century global marketplace, simply demonstrate care for others in business.”

For most people, kindness comes easily when interacting with those in positions of higher authority and power than their own. Do you threaten your banker, confront the judge hearing your traffic court plea, or argue with your priest? In contrast, it can be much more difficult to extend kindness down the food chain, to those from which we have nothing to personally gain.

When Meryl Streep first met Anne Hathaway, she embraced her young co-star in The Devil Wears Prada and exclaimed: “I think you’re perfect for the role and I’m so happy we’re going to be working on this together.” The established Hollywood star then drew back, fixed the young actress with a gimlet eye, and added: “I warn you, that’s the last nice thing I’m going to say to you.” Then again, it was only a movie. Streep’s success demonstrates the true kindness and success theory.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do Your Actions Support Your Values?

People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.  ~Lewis Cass

Actions do, in fact, speak louder than words.  People see what you do, and if it doesn’t align with what you’ve said—than you’ve immediately lost their trust, their admiration, and their willingness to follow.  And worst yet, your words have lost their meaning and value.

What effect would that have on your company?  Your team?  Your family?

As we lead, we must consider our priorities, beliefs and values.  They cannot be swept under the rug.  They must be lived.

What values does your company profess? Putting clients first?  Treating fellow employees with respect?  Being thrifty with spending?

What values do you uphold as a family?  Kindness to others?  Integrity?  Always doing what’s right?

Take a few moments and think about your actions over the last week.  Are you living out what you claim to hold important?  It’s a tough question we should all challenge ourselves with.  We are, after all, human.  We can, so often, get distracted or derailed.  What’s important, though, is that we recognize it, and then we commit to making the necessary changes to bring us back to the best of who we are.

Support what you say.  Model your values.  Let your actions do the speaking, because they’re what people hear anyway.

Erin Schreyer

President of Sagestone Partners

Are Kind Leaders Role Models or Overrated?

kind leadership

Kindness creates trust and respect and enables cooperation.

Are kind people more popular? Do you look up to people who are kind or those who are unkind? How about your role models, kind or unkind?

Take a moment right now and think about a leader who you admire. Is your leader involved in business or politics? Are they an entertainer or a spiritual guide? Do you know this person intimately, or only through the media? Did this person live in the past or are they alive now? Is this person a good role model for your family or friends? Would you like your children to grow up to be like this person? Do you aspire to become similar to this person? Is your leader kind?

As people, we fundamentally want the same basic things: to be appreciated, to belong, to feel good about ourselves, and to make a difference. The reason that kindness is so important in leadership is because it implies these basic human desires are acknowledged and protected by those who lead us.

Kindness creates trust and respect and enables cooperation. In your lifetime, have you experienced the great pleasure of working with leaders who were sensitive, empathetic, caring and gracious—which are all important qualities of kindness? On the other hand, have you worked with leaders who were self-centered, thoughtless, rude and demeaning?

Under which leadership style did you contribute your best work? Within which leadership culture did you learn and grow most rapidly? Did kind leadership influence your loyalty and trustworthiness?

If you asked me a few years back if I thought kindness was essential to leadership, I might have laughed out loud. But today, I understand the power of kindness. Stories throughout history and literature praise the traits of a “Good King.”

I recently attended a breakfast meeting here in San Francisco hosted by “The Forgotten International,” an organization that’s mission is to bring together people in the world who have great resources with people who have great needs in order to help alleviate poverty and suffering. The event was hosted His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, who is considered by many to be one the world’s greatest leaders.

The message I took away was clear and simple, “Work with those around you who have so little and suffer so much. In doing so, you will feel blessed in return.”

You have daily opportunities to follow Dalai Lama’s directive. You have the opportunity to feel pleasure, the opportunity to no longer be a victim, and the opportunity to feel your own power changing our world through kindness.

Next time you think of the leaders you admire, the role models you have, think about if you would describe them as being kind or unkind?