Dr. William F. Baker, author of Leading With Kindness
Women in power have it tough in the workplace. If they exercise authority with too light a touch, they’re often not taken seriously. Yet if they take a more aggressive tack, they can be resented and called names, where a man behaving the same way would likely get grudging respect. But research suggests that women don’t need to go soft or get nasty to get ahead. They need to embrace the power of a kind leadership style.
Along with Dr. Michael O’Malley, a business book author, former editor at Yale University Press, and current business and human resources consultant, I wrote Leading with Kindness, which showed through research and high profile, real world examples that kind leadership is the most effective. The book was also adapted into a PBS show of the same name, which featured interviews with managers at Google, Pitney Bowes, and The Juilliard School, among others.
Let me be clear. Being kind isn’t the same as being nice. A kind leader isn’t afraid to call out people who are underperforming. Kindness isn’t the same as weakness, indecisiveness, or always giving in to other people’s demands. Kindness means embracing the proven power of the following 6 attributes.
1. Compassion: The smartest managers realize that their employees come to them as complete people, with unique strengths and weaknesses. It’s tempting to think that treating everybody like they came out of a cookie cutter is easier than taking the time to get to know people. But in the long run, your employees will appreciate the investment of time and energy. Manage people as they are, not as you wish they were, and you have a shot at making them stronger and making your organization better at the same time.
2. Gratitude: Sure, it’s still a tough economy and many people are struggling. But people still have choice when it comes to where they spend their working days. If you recognize this fact by treating people like volunteers rather than drones or drudges, you’ll be rewarded with greater productivity and a better working atmosphere. When people are given respect and independence, they take on more tasks, think more creatively, and get things done quicker.
3. Integrity: This quality is foremost in creating a safe and smooth-running work environment for everybody. When you respond with integrity to situations, you also respond with consistency. That means that not only will your employees know what to expect and what standards they themselves will be held to, but they’ll be able to take on more independence by making the calls that you yourself would make. That makes for a faster, more seamless decision making process across your organization.
4. Authenticity: What we mean by authenticity is “be yourself.” If your idea of getting ahead is by turning yourself into whatever your superiors or your employees want you to be, you might get some short term traction, but long term success will elude you. People know when you’re not being true to yourself and it can cost you respect. The most effective source of both personal drive and charisma is when you find those authentic points of connection between your work and who you really are in the world.
5. Humility: Humility isn’t the same as pretending you’re worse than you are. Being humble means knowing your true strengths and weaknesses as a worker and as a leader, and working towards them or compensating for them when the need arises. Leaders who don’t acknowledge those areas where they have some learning to do are the quickest to make rash decisions, which are almost always bad ones. By staying humble and real, you stay smart.
6. Humor: Of all the traits to adopt, this one is both the easiest and the hardest. Humor isn’t easy to define, and I certainly don’t mean you should make fun of people. But when you encounter the challenges, awkward moments, and difficult days, take a little time to find the humor in the situation, both for yourself and for those around you. It might just provide the relief you need to find a sure path forward.
For more on the book and the show, Leading with Kindness, go here: http://www.wliw.org/leadingwithkindness/about/
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Dr. William Baker directs the Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Education, and Public Policy at Fordham University, where he is also Journalist-in-Residence and a professor in the Graduate School of Education. He is a distinguished professor at IESE Business School (ranked #1 globally by The Economist) and is President Emeritus of WNET, New York’s public media. Baker is the recipient of seven Emmy Awards and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. During his broadcasting career, Baker was President of Westinghouse Television, which later became CBS. He established PM Magazines the #1 syndicated program in America in the1980s, introduced Oprah and Charlie Rose as talk show hosts, and launched the Discovery Channel and the Disney Channel.
Dr. William Baker directs the Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Education, and Public Policy at Fordham University, where he is also Journalist-in-Residence and a professor in the Graduate School of Education. He is a distinguished professor at IESE Business School (ranked #1 globally by The [...]