be too late. — Emerson
to endow the world-famous Rhodes Scholarships, was a stickler for
correct dress, but apparently not at the expense of someone else’s
A young man was invited to dine with Rhodes arrived by train and had
to go directly to Rhodes’s home in his travel-stained clothes. Once
there he was appalled to find the other guests already assembled,
wearing full evening dress. After what seemed to be a long time Rhodes
appeared, in a shabby old blue suit. Later the young man learned that
his host had been dressed in evening clothes, but put on the old suit
when he heard of his young guests’ dilemma.
Kindness is not a virtue that is typically high on the list when one
thinks of leadership characteristics. Given the recent news of one
well known politician it might be time to revisit the topic. Countless
stories abound about bullying and dealing with difficult people at
work. Unfortunately, these are issues that have been around for a long
time and will only continue until more kind leaders step up.
When addressing the issue of kindness in leadership I am speaking more
to the temperament of the person who happens to be a leader. Kindness
is a disposition. It’s not something you put on and take off like your
apparel. To be sure, in your place of business you are more attentive
to the disposition that is needed to deal with your employees and
customers. So what are some common characteristics of remarkably kind
leaders? Here are five for your consideration.
They are considerate of the needs of others
It sounds quite simple, right? Kind considerations are given when the
leader realizes that he or she is not the center of the universe. Kind
leaders make the needs and considerations of others a top priority and
then execute their actions off of that premise. Yes, the habit is
elementary but the payoff can be huge.
They find common ground
Kind leaders have learned the secret of relational strength. They know
that more positive things can be accomplished through kind words and
actions than through negative ones. To that end, they will seek common
ground whenever possible to fortify relationships. It’s much easier
for people to come together through kindness than through adversity.
Kind leaders find common ground and build from there.
They are remarkably confident
This is perhaps where kind leaders are most underestimated. Kindness
should never be misinterpreted as weakness. Kind leaders are confident
enough to treat everyone with respect. They are kind enough to not
allow others to be bullied or treated with disrespect, and care enough
to confront when necessary. Kind and confident leaders are the ones
you want in your corner and the type you should aspire to become.
They are relentless encouragers
Kind leaders are encouragers. They know how to speak not just the
words you want to hear but the words you need to hear. They know how
to get in your head as well as your heart with the encouragement and
inspiration you need. They will challenge you to be your best, reach
your potential, and care enough to speak hard truths you need to hear.
But at the end of the day, they always encourage.
They are game changers
If bad bosses and bad employees can create negative or toxic work
environments that makes it difficult for people to thrive in then I
believe the opposite is true. Only kind people can be kind leaders. I
believe it’s time for kind leaders to step up, be heard, be seen, be
promoted, and be the game changers we need. Call it wishful thinking,
call me naive, but I think it’s time we understand that the days of
bullying and meanness has not worked and will not work. It’s time to
shine the spotlight on the good and let kindness rule the day.
What do you say?
* * * * *
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at