By Sonia McDonald CEO & founder LeadershipHQ & McDonald Inc., Author and Keynote Speaker.
When you think of traditional office culture, there are many things that are given importance above being kind. In fact, kindness isn’t even on the radar a lot of the time.
Being competitive, confident (almost to the point of being arrogant), and other not-so-positive traits are idolised, because those are what are most often associated with success.
This is the kind of culture that leads to toxicity; poor communication, teamwork and productivity are the results when this version of ‘success’ is pushed to the forefront.
The good news is that this tide is changing, and it’s becoming less and less acceptable to act this way in the workplace. The focus is now on being authentic, courageous, and kind, and with good reason. Being kind isn’t hard to do, and it has incredible results.
The APA’s Emotion journal recently released a study that aimed to show how even the smallest acts of kindness in a workplace have a ripple effect, making the environment and culture much more positive. Essentially, it shows that kindness begets kindness, and helps it spread.
It was mainly female employees from the Madrid headquarters of Coca Cola that were studied by University of California (UC) researchers. For four weeks, they participated in what was called a ‘happiness study’ and had to report once a week on their feelings around their satisfaction with life, their moods, and any behaviours, positive and negative, that they experienced or exhibited in the workplace. After these four weeks, the employees in the study had to rate their job satisfaction and happiness as well.
The catch of this study was that 19 of the employees were told to perform an act of kindness for their fellow workers who were outside of the control group. The acts weren’t dictated; the ‘givers’ could do anything generous and kind, with even the smallest, simplest gesture counted.
What this study showed is that kindness has a profoundly positive effect on the workplace and its employees. The kind things done by the ‘givers’ didn’t go unnoticed, with the receivers saying that they felt a strong sense of togetherness in their workplace and that they were much happier and felt more in control while at work.
Those who were participating as the ‘givers’ felt more satisfied in both their lives and their jobs, and even felt less depressed. They were more confident in working autonomously as well, because they felt more competent overall.
What does all this tell us? That kindness breeds happiness, confidence and a much more positive workplace culture and environment. Doing kind acts and being kind in general, no matter how small or simple the gesture, improves both the giver’s and the receiver’s wellbeing. Kindness also helps people cope with stressful conditions at work, and the other interesting thing is that kindness is catching.
As the kind acts increased, the behaviours also spread throughout the workplace, making the staff feel like they were cared about and looked after. They wanted to reciprocate these kind acts, acknowledging the giver and looking to become a giver themselves by paying it forward. This also fuels creativity, as employees tried to think of different ways to demonstrate kindness.
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Kindness benefits everyone, not just those involved in the kind act; it is catching, spreading through the workplace and improving the culture and environment. Get your team together and discuss random acts of kindness with them. Ask them if they have any ideas, whether small or large and offer up your own examples. Encourage your employees to start doing these kind acts randomly, from that point on.
It may take a while for the idea to take hold, as some may worry about coming off as disingenuous – but that’s why there should be an emphasis on small acts of kindness. You don’t have to make grand sweeping gestures to be kind, even something as simple as bringing someone paperwork from the printer to save them getting up is a generous act. Once the kindness campaign catches on, you’ll soon see the positivity and camaraderie growing. Kindness is important in any workplace, so ask yourself how you can start making yours a kinder place.
Sonia’s Books – Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! Grab them HERE.
Sonia McDonald CEO & founder McDonald Inc. believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humour will enhance any event she appears.
1. Leadership Attitude
2. Just Rock It
3. Leadership for Small Business
4. Leading the Next Generations
5. Courageous Leadership
6. Future Leaders of Leadership
7. New Kindness of Leadership
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