Spread a little kindness

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Turns out being sick in a hospital was not where I wanted to be and the desperate need to just get home was incredible.  I was though, on the receiving end of some simple, heart felt gestures of kindness. The glass of water, the cold flannel, the checking I needed nothing else. Then the poor visitor who got me at my worst and helped me to the car by carrying my coat and bag. I got home. I felt terrible but I also felt incredible. People had shown kindness and caring. Naturally, no prompting no ceremony. It's what we do.

It reminded me of the simple things we can do for patients when they are feeling at the lowest and how these are most likely the most powerful, the most remembered and the most important to their experience. With all the flash gadgets, incredible procedures, medications and on-going education, sometimes it's the simple touch, smile or gesture that will make the difference for the person in front of you.

I don't think it's a stretch to write or talk about kindness in how we interact with our patients. What about how we lead? Do you want or expect kindness to be a skill of those who lead?  Is kindness in leadership encouraged?

This article from Steve on Leadership describes two contrasting views from leaders on the topic. With one suggesting it's a 'dumb fad' and the other not so much. I think you'll know which way I lean. The 'other' perspective in Steve's article was Colin Powell. A US military leader, four star general, the joint chief of staff and then secretary of state of the US. Yes, he thinks kindness in leadership is key. His book has now been added to my 'to read' list.

Steve's blog lists the key factors involved with kindness in leadership.

Kindness begins with how leaders see people
Showing gratitude is kindness
Holding people accountable is an act of kindness

Kindness in leadership does not equate to weakness and it is in fact a powerful combination that Mary Poppins seems to have summed up - I am kind but firm. This piece from the Be A Leader site gives concrete examples that you will be able to relate to and reminds you that how you choose to respond and react to any situation is, as always, the first step. Choosing to do so with kindness is not weakness. Jon Metrz writes here about the 'iron fist in a velvet glove' approach and describes situations where leadership equals kindness and kindness equals leadership.

I love the idea of culture of ferocious kindness that is mentioned in this Forbes article, embedding it into our DNA as how we work at every level, towards everyone. BrenĂ© Brown has captured these ideas into a manifesto for leaders everywhere that you can download here.

Would you call yourself a kind leader?