When I founded Bond last year, there were lots of things to figure out – from accounting and office space to services and staff. And while there was SO much to navigate, I was crystal clear on one thing: that kindness is our most important core value.
I know from personal experience that kindness is hard to come by at work because I spent more than 20 years in high-pressure corp0rate and creative roles. More often than not, transactional behavior and deadlines squashed empathy and meaningful relationships.
So, how can leaders promote, embody and elevate kindness for themselves and their teams? Here are five of my top tips for making kindness a core value in the workplace.
1 - Model self-care.
If you're worn out and don't take vacation, those who report to you will suffer from the toll it takes on your physical, emotional and mental well-being. And they may wrongly assume that you're a proponent of hustle culture, too. Double yuck.
2 - Do your job.
Hold yourself accountable and let people know when you've screwed up. And when others are struggling and you have the bandwidth to help, don't hesitate to offer support.
3 - Connect in meaningful ways.
Reach out to colleagues with the intention of talking about MORE than just the task list you're working on. Talking about hobbies, vacations, and passion projects can help you find common ground and shared purpose beyond the bottom lines at work.
4 - Give praise, but make it authentic.
Make a point to say thank you. But be careful to not shower everyone with praise just for showing up. That's as much of a morale killer as never saying thanks at all. Get specific with what a colleague did to improve a plan, save a deadline, etc., and shout it loud for your whole team to hear and acknowledge the great work.
5 - Focus on real feedback.
Being nice = people pleasing. Being kind = offering constructive (and sometimes critical) feedback for the betterment of the person receiving it. Talk about the positives but don't gloss over areas for improvement just to spare someone's ego.