It’s World Kindness Day today and that got me thinking about how kindness relates to business and leadership. People often equate kindness to weakness, especially when it comes to leadership. I’ve struggled with that myself over the years, especially as a woman entrepreneur, you think you have to be tough to get ahead… the bitches get to the C Suite mentality. But, the more accomplished women I’ve met, and the more I’ve been the recipient of their kindness and goodwill the more I’ve come to believe that being a kind leader is essential to success.
Being kind is critical to our mission, I named my company EarthKind® for a reason, the products we make are kind to the earth and as a corporation; we foster an environment that values everyone and everything. From sourcing our sustainable ingredients, to the way we make our products, package them and distribute them. The whole process is mindful of everyone and everything we touch, contact and impact.
I could not operate at all good conscious if my leadership style was at odds with my company mission. That does not mean I can’t be tough when I have to be, that I don’t make the difficult decisions, or work with the bottom line in mind. What it means is that there’s a higher purpose in addition to making the profits and that as a company we are responsible to everyone – employees, customers, suppliers, funders, supportive communities and stakeholders alike.
It means that we operate in a cycle of kindness and there’s no better example of that than the story of Jack. Jack has become a bit of a “superstar’ since our company’s 10th Anniversary earlier this year. Jack took to the stage and melted hearts. The subsequent video (link) that was produced by one of our great retail partners—Lowes—for their diversity program, has changed Jack’s life and in turn, he has changed ours. Before Jack began working at EarthKind®, he was labeled “handicapped” and had limited opportunities and low confidence, but he has blossomed in our culture where we nurture dedication and commitment. Now Jack can only see opportunities where before there were only obstacles. Here is how the “Cycle of Kindness” worked for us all.
As leaders, we have the responsibility to transform—ourselves, our businesses, the category we operate in, and the world around us. That kind of transformation can’t take place in a hostile environment. It takes the commitment of a team of like-minded individuals working towards the same goal with kindness as the core.
The definition of kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. I would add compassionate, thoughtful and open-minded.
When all these qualities are combined with the resolve it takes to build a business, we can lead our companies to be the change agents the world needs.