I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. And how a small, kind gesture can make such a mammoth difference to someone’s life.

I really don’t understand why kindness isn’t valued more, especially from a business perspective. Don’t businesses and their leaders realise that when you are kind to people, they want to do more for you? Whether it’s your workforce, customers or investors.

I’m so very grateful to have been the recipient of many acts of kindness throughout my life so far:

  • The flight attendant who offered to move me to a new seat so the parents I was next to would have more space for their child, and so I wouldn’t be as close to a baby on a 15 hour flight.
  • The countless friends who drove me places in my teens and early 20s when I didn’t have a driver’s licence.
  • My husband who frequently fills my car with petrol. And who leaves the garage light on when he knows I’ll be home late.
  • The friend of my mother’s, who is now also my friend, who sends me a text message every year on my mother’s birthday and on the anniversary of her death, to tell me she is thinking of me.
  • The many people who have given my name and contact details to a potential client.
  • The neighbours who willingly look after our chickens every time we go away.

Kindness is so prevalent in the personal worlds of so many of us, that it makes me wonder why it’s not as common in the business world.

kindness in business

I’m not saying kindness doesn’t occur in business, because it does, every day. I frequently think of the time Deb, the owner of Dello Mano, sent a box of brownies and other goodies to my father (who she didn’t know) once she heard my mother died. Deb and I had developed a lovely relationship thanks to Twitter but hadn’t actually met.

I’m curious to know what might occur if we were to include kindness as a metric of success. How would it lead to stronger relationships? How might it increase trust? What small acts could we, as individuals and as organisations, do on a regular basis?

The beauty of kindness is that is doesn’t always need to cost us money. Or really very much time. A kind act can be as simple as offering a glass of water to a customer who looks a bit hot! Or saying congratulations to a colleague when they announce their promotion on LinkedIn. Or getting your receptionist a coffee when she can’t leave her desk – as the CEO of the first company I worked for used to occasionally do for me.

What would happen if we started to measure the number of kind deeds transacted? How many of us would be able to say, hand on heart, that we are a success? And think about the flow-on impact. I know I seek out the businesses that have shown me kindness. I WANT them to have my money. And I tell people about them. Their kindnesses show they value me. It’s not rocket science!

It won’t surprise you to learn how THRILLED I was to hear that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern recently announced New Zealand would now have a well-being budget, that places an emphasis on kindness and empathy.

During a discussion at the World Economic Forum last week she said: “We need to address the societal well-being of our nation, not just the economic well-being”.

What does this mean? In simple terms it means that from this year, 2019, the New Zealand government will present a “well-being budget” to gauge the long-term impact of policy on the quality of people’s lives.

Jacinda went on to say “We need to try and build trust back into our institutions again, no matter where we are in the world … if you start looking at politics through a lens of kindness, empathy, well-being, then it doesn’t matter what happens over a political cycle, it’s what happens over decades”.

If governments can do this, why can’t we do it in business?

How will you be kind today?

Mel Kettle works with CEOs, Boards, leaders and organisations to help them connect and engage with their workforce, customers and investors. Download her latest whitepaper, The Social CEO – from invisible to influencer.

To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or call her on 0404 600 889. Order a signed copy of Mel’s book, The Social Association – 5 key skills not-for-profits need to increase member engagement, generate ROI and create a thriving online community, published in February 2018.

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