50 business leaders have just been given awards for kindness – here's why it's important

13 November 2018 -

Jackie ScullyInternational Kindness Day: 50 business leaders have shown kindness boosts business performance

CMI Insights

Fifty ‘Leading Lights’ in business have been named as champions of kindness, in an inaugural list unveiled by the Women of the Future programme on International Kindness Day.

The initiative recognises the contribution of kind managers to business, society and the economy, and well-known leaders such as England football manager Gareth Southgate are among those to make the cut.

Kindness and Leadership: 50 Leading Lights has been created by Pinky Lilani OBE, founder of the Women of the Future programme, in association with Lloyds Banking Group. “In a world in which we obsess over statistics, ROI; and are under constant pressure to innovate and adapt, with our time seemingly running faster and faster through the hourglass, kindness has the power to set leaders apart,” Lilani told the Daily Telegraph. She describes kindness as “something you do without expecting something in return… It surprises; it cuts through traditional boundaries of hierarchy, gender and diversity, and it inspires action.”

It is hoped that by celebrating leaders who foster collaboration, share meaningful connections, and give their time to colleagues, that others will be inspired to create supportive working cultures and rethink the concept of ‘strong leadership’.

Jackie Scully, deputy managing director at Think Publishing, is one business leader to make the list. She helps manage CMI content projects and was nominated for the care and support she shows colleagues, as well as her extensive charity work. Scully believes kindness has never been more important in business.

WHY KINDNESS IN BUSINESS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

She explains: “We’re in a world that’s increasingly complicated; people are doing things for the first time in their jobs and there’s so much unknown with the growth and the fast pace of digital technology. This means compassion, help and support are needed. I would defy anyone to say that being kind has a negative effect on business.”

So, how can leaders show kindness in the workplace? “Kindness manifests itself in so many different ways and it’s why the 50 Leading Lights list is so important.

“Kindness is taking time to realise that people matter – and what they think and wish to achieve matters too. Kindness is looking at your team and working out what makes them tick and then crafting a management style around it.”

Scully has been known to leave post-it notes of praise on employees’ desks. She has an open-minded approach to flexible working to help her team balance the demands of work and personal life, and prioritises each individual’s career development through actions such as mentoring.

Read more: how to be a good mentor

THE IMPACT OF KIND LEADERSHIP

The effects of kind behaviours on wellbeing and interpersonal relationships are well documented. Indeed, Scully reflects positively on her own past experiences: “I always remember the kind gestures. I remember the time when people have gone out of their way to teach me something, to inspire me and to give me confidence and that kindness has helped me become a better leader,” she says.

However, kindness has a tangible impact on performance too. For Scully – leading teams at an award-winning membership publishing agency – kindness has boosted creative thinking among employees.

“If you’re kind, you foster a creative workplace. If people are fearful, if they’re worried or under too much stress, they don’t give themselves the time and space to be creative. If you’re kind to people it means they’re not afraid to come up with ideas or say the wrong thing. That means you get better innovation and thought processes.

“If people think a company cares about them, they are more likely to care about a company and that’s when you get great efficiencies, great productivity and a great working environment.”

More information on Kindness and Leadership: 50 leading lights is available at kindness.womenofthefuture.co.uk. Jackie Scully is deputy managing director at Think Publishing.

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