“Compassion and kindness does not mean you’re a leadership wimp!”

Growing up in the 50s and 60s I learned quickly that the prevailing leadership business model was “command and control.” This style of leadership, better named control-management, assumed that most people are naturally lazy and need frequent reprimands or threats to get maximum effort. Kindness and compassion were considered an invitation to slack off and let others do the heavy lifting.

Showing compassion and kindness doesn’t just feel better, it also builds confidence, adds to the financial bottom line, creates a healthier work environment and increases loyalty and productivity. In your push to achieve your organization’s goals, don’t overlook individual emotional needs. No matter how tough people look on the outside or how harsh their tone, most of the time it’s just a cover for past fears, failures and hurts.

Holding the team to high standards and showing people you really care are not mutually exclusive. My experience after 50+ years of providing leadership at some level shows just the opposite. Great leaders model kindness and compassion every day in successful organizations. Thus the healthy work environment and low staff turnover rate.

The productive and supportive tone of every great place to work starts in the front office and shows up on the front lines. The opposite tone also has its roots in top leadership, and if not corrected, shows up when you least desire it and influences the most those you are trying to reach or serve.

Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, was perhaps America’s most passionate corporate leader for the cause of love in the workplace. Without apology, he said, “We’d rather have a company run by love than by fear.”

Southwest flies out of Dallas’ Love Field, its stock exchange symbol is “Luv.” The company communication is called Luv Live and its 20th Anniversary slogan was “Twenty Years of Loving You.” They just happen to be one of America’s most profitable airlines.

Kindness and compassion are signs of a leader’s maturity and strength, not weakness. Lack of these qualities cannot be overcome by intellectual genius, a passion for results at any cost or an overbearing personality.

“Love has no fear because mature love expels all fear. If we are afraid it’s because we fear being judged”
1 John 4:18.

If asked, would those you lead describe your leadership as being kind and compassionate? If not, why not?