Kindness is all it takes

Kindness to each other, teams, customers, and suppliers, is often all it takes to stand out. To ensure retention. To build loyalty. To be trusted. We can be driven and create great results while being good humans and putting others’ needs first. As the economy moves towards a share-and-care economy, ruthless may just not cut it.

My dad was a teacher and a leader of a primary school and a town-wide school band that attracted 80-100 teenagers each year. They are both big businesses to run. He did it for a lifetime without ever raising his voice.

The troublemakers were sent to his classes when other teachers had given up, and with calmness, presence and seeing the best in them, connecting with that inner being behind all the drama, he changed lives. No one wants to be the trouble. No one wants to not bring their best. But often we need a little help to bring it out.

I can’t count the times we were stopped over the years at the local shopping mall by former pupils or band members, sharing how he had changed their lives.

Today I can put words on what he did. Based on decades of leadership application and my coaching experience, I know the behavioural patterns and thinking leading to lack of results and drama – and the focus leading to success and joy. I wasn’t aware of his impact as a kid, but now I know the importance of what he did and how. My first role model in leadership.

Today I also know the qualities that the Danish welfare society discretely moulded and offered to us all growing up. Today I know Denmark was a share-and-care economy before Airbnb, Uber and many other disruptors entered the business scene. You don’t become a top host on Airbnb if you’re just a ruthless money maker. You create a trusting society by sharing wealth and caring for those less able than yourself.

Leadership by Love. That was the title of a book my parents gave me as I became responsible for my first direct report over 20 years ago. Denmark was probably ahead of the times, at least compared to Australia. Here we’re only slowly getting to that space now. And still calling it love would be pushing it. What about Leadership by Kindness, then? The essence is the same. Great results are created when you come from the heart.

I do my best to bring my best. For many years I thought that meant relentless push and drive. Now I know that kindness creates great results and even better drive. Kindness over ruthless any day. Thanks, Dad.