Kindness: Is it the forgotten leadership and retention strategy?

Kindness and Leadership – a match made in heaven?

Leaders in business are constantly striving to find new ways to perform at their best, whether it be implementing new management techniques and methodologies, or new tools and software. Some of these work better than others, and some of these stick around longer than others.

The One with Staying Power

A recently emerging trend seems to be in for the long haul though – kindness. It sounds simple and obvious, but it’s having an enormous impact in the business world.

In her recent article, Carina Parisella asks “Why is it we value living a happy, fulfilled and loving life but at work some feel the only way to get ahead is to use power and toughness as a tool?” 

It’s a great question. As individuals, I think we can all agree that we gravitate towards and feel more connected with people who treat us with respect, empathy, compassion and kindness. In turn, we’re likely to want to do better work. 

Carina’s article refers to some interesting statistics to back this up. A 2019 US study revealed 57 per cent of employees quit because of their boss, while another 14 per cent have left multiple jobs because of their managers. Interestingly, an additional 32 per cent have seriously considered leaving because of their manager.

But what if our manager/leader is kind and compassionate to us? Would we feel so strongly about leaving and finding a new opportunity? 

A Gallup study of 25 million employees over decades of research showed that having a “healthy, supportive, empathetic and highly communicative environment” around us leads to better employee retention. 

How can leaders be more kind? 

Kind leaders generally embody three traits:

  1. They’re people-centric. They consider all facets of their employees, including how they want to work, what motivates them and what inspires them.
    These leaders concentrate on the individual and how they can help them become the best person they can be. They acknowledge that people have a life outside of the office as well as other responsibilities, and they support this.
  2. They’re transparent. They own up to their mistakes, misunderstandings and flaws. They demonstrate authenticity, courage and respect, and they’re not afraid to admit when they don’t know something. 
  3. They’re purposeful. They do what they say they’ll do, and they have consistent and fair rules and processes. 

What does the future look like?

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the recent years of pandemic, it’s that compassion and understanding are critical, and can only improve productivity. It can also be the difference between an employee staying or leaving and in the current labour market, retaining quality staff is now more important than ever before. 

It’s fast becoming a ‘work perk’, giving employees a reason to want to work for a specific company over another. Most employees, when faced with the choice between a flexible, understanding and compassionate workplace or a rigid, traditional workplace, will choose the former.

Ultimately, this impact on retention and attraction means there is an enormous opportunity for leaders and businesses to define the new normal in the business world. Perhaps there is a permanent shift coming – away from the 9-5 rigid workday, and towards something far more flexible, understanding and kind. 

Key Takeaway

Kindness and authenticity is a leadership trait that will always be trending and is an essential plank in all good retention strategies.

If you’re an employer who needs help to develop your leadership skills or the leadership skills of your staff and would like to discuss this further get in touch via the Contact Form or by email email 

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