Think of the qualities you have found in leaders who have had the greatest personal impact in your life.
I’m sure that words like courageous, decisive, and visionary are somewhere on your list.
But whenever I’ve asked that question, it’s been rare that the word “kind” hasn’t also shown up.
Kindness is not weakness. Rather, in effective leaders it’s an authentic sense of empathy that can help forge the deepest of connections. It’s action-oriented, and is an essential component to influencing lasting impact.
So, how do effective leaders develop this quality? Put another way, what is true about these leaders that might be missing from everyone else?
In my experience, I have discovered three essential practices that must be in place.
1. Kind leaders are intentional
John Maxwell has shared that, early in his leadership, he made about a dozen critical life decisions that would mark his path throughout his life. The rest of his life, he would only have to manage those decisions made early on.
Kind leaders take this approach.
They decide early on that, presented with the opportunity to share an encouraging word, provide a helping hand, or coach someone needing assistance, they would automatically step up. There is no need to revisit that decision each time such an opportunity presents itself; the decision has already been made.
2. Kind leaders create margin
Many years ago I found myself racing across town in order to make an appointment. I had allowed myself far too little time between meetings.
Along the way I came across a woman whose car was stalled with some sort of mechanical problem. As much as I genuinely wanted to stop and help, I simply had no time.
Then and there I made a vow to avoid scheduling kindness out of my day.
Kindness needs margin.
3. Kind leaders take initiative
At a funeral, many people will say to the grief-stricken widow, “If there’s anything I can do, please call me.”
But kind leaders are different.
These are the ones who simply show up at her house, unannounced, with their lawnmower and take care of the yard.
Remember, kindness is not weakness. It takes enormous strength and discipline to develop this quality.
So strive to be a kind leader.
Because few other qualities could leave so profound an impact on someone’s life.