Breakthroughs: Caring & Kindness as a Radical Business Idea?

Kindness, caring and good deeds are becoming the new buzzwords in business. In a recent interview with the World Business Forum/NYC, George Kohlrieser, psychologist and professor of leadership and organizational behavior, and author of the book, Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership, discusses his research on “secure-base leadership.” According to Kohlrieser, building trust and safety promotes exploration, risk-taking and curiosity—behaviors highly associated with innovative and creative business cultures. Leaders, then, should care in order that others may dare in the workplace.

Dan Schwartz’s ATD blog post, Is Kindness the Missing Link to Employee Performance claims that forming “positive connections” with colleagues, and practicing kindness, improves performance “when it comes time to collaborate with others.”

Research supports these ideas. Happier, healthier, stress-free work environments lead to more engaged employees which leads to higher productivity, increased morale and improved performance.  Gallup, The Corporate Executive Board and other studies correlate increased profits, productivity and profitability with high employee engagement scores.

Just this past week I spent a full day with over 150 senior managers in a Fortune 500 company discussing employee engagement, consulting the research, and exploring the why and the how-to promote honest communication, lead with integrity and help employees feel appreciated at work.  Here are a few lessons that we learned:

-  Relationship matters
-  Feelings are data to be considered
-  Someone has to go first—to feel cared for, someone has to care
-  Intention does not equal impact
-  You can’t fake it
-  To truly change a culture, you have to have a plan.

 And finally, leadership is learning—it takes practice and discipline to be kind, to care and to cultivate healthy and thriving workplaces.  It doesn't just happen.

I suppose that's the radical idea---being seen as human?

Mary McGuinness, M.Ed., PCC is a career transition and shift-it coach based in Chicago, IL USA.
Mary uses visual coaching and design-thinking techniques and practices to accompany her clients on a journey of self-discovery that results in creative solutions, faster results, and happier, more fulfilling careers.  

Mary McGuinness