Please Don’t Mistake My Kindness For Weakness

3min read

"What's the most important quality in a leader?"

In a recent Him For Her dinner I attended, this was one of the ice breaker questions our host asked us to use when introducing ourselves to the other guests at the table.

The answers were widely varied: curiosity, valuing people who are different from them, authenticity, long term thinkers, being gifted with making things simple...

But what really is the most important quality in a leader?

How about kindness. When did we all forget about kindness? When did we stop valuing kindness?

I would argue that kindness is one of the most undervalued leadership qualities in our world today.

When did we decide kindness was not an essential trait of a great leader? When did we stop being kind as leaders? I'll tell you when...

When we rewarded leaders for their great results and consistently overlooked their unkind behavior. When we decided kindness was a synonym for pushover, weakness, inefficiency, and softness. When we decided we were too busy to be kind. We have a business to run after all, so what has kindness got to do with any of it?

Kind people don't get shit done. Mean people, who rule with fear and have a Game of Thrones style management (as Adam Neumann of WeWork was described recently in an article in Fast Company) are the ones who really drive results. And results are what shareholders value.

So we devalue kindness.

The question is, can women even afford to be a kind leader? I walk the line, the careful dance of being too nice or too witchy. Of being too trusting or too controlling. Of being too compassionate and being the ice queen/dragon lady/the Devil wearing Prada. (Disclaimer: I don't actually own any Prada clothing, but it does have a nice ring to it.)

The question I would instead ask is, how can we afford not to be kind?

In case you didn't get the memo, people don't stay at a job for the endless supply of KIND Bars, free caffeine, and access to weekly discounted massages. The vast majority of people stay to work for kind people.

I can lead with kindness. I can be tough and fair. I can have high standards and expectations for my team and those around me.

And I don't have to kick people when they are down. I don't have to make feel people worse than they already do about the mistakes they have made. I don't have to use foul language, threaten, or manipulate. I don't have to rule with fear. I don't have to be unkind to drive results. I just don't. And it's not how I want to lead. I will not be an unkind leader.

We all have our moments. I am not always the kindest version of myself all the time. That's just not possible—I am human after all. But I do try to think about how I can lead with more kindness, compassion, and generosity. How can I show up as a kinder leader?

Kindness comes in all different forms. It's the free smile, the free hello, and the free wave. It's treating people with generosity, empathy, and care. It's about asking people how they are doing and taking a few minutes to actually listen to the response before walking off. It's about bringing humanity back to our workspaces and workplaces.

So please don't mistake my kindness for weakness.

Being kind is my greatest strength—our collective greatest strength—in leadership. This is how we should all want to lead to create a real impact for ourselves and our organizations.

And in the words of Maya Angelou, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget about how you made them feel."

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
3min read

It’s Time for Women to Stop Worrying About Being “Too Much”

We are living in a time when women are rising to new heights which means they are regularly being confronted with the fear of being "too much". For women in business this is pervasive and costly.

A few ways women can be perceived as "too much" are:

Speaking up about their successes and achievements.

Sharing one too many photos of their cute kids.

Telling one too many people about that date night.

Looking a little too good in that swimsuit.

These can lead to being publicly attacked on social media or privately slandered which in turn leads to women dimming their light and walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding conflict and judgement.

The minute a woman feels it's unsafe to shine she will begin to overthink, worry, and fear how she shows up in the world.

Forgetting to announce the book is done and the interview is live.

Choosing to focus on what's still on the to-do list rather than what's been checked off.

Many female entrepreneurs are subconsciously altering their behavior in an attempt to not attract too much attention to themselves, rather than focusing on allowing authenticity and magnetism to attract their ideal clients and community.

Women are afraid of being criticized, ostracized, and abandoned by other women for simply being who they are. This leads to quite the quantum when being who you are is simplest way to accelerate the growth of your business.

New research shows men are far more comfortable with self promotion than women are. Researchers found that men rate their own performance 33 percent higher than equally performing women. What we know is that self promotion pays off and this is where women are missing the boat.

The world needs more women to step into leadership roles and no longer be intimidated about creating six and seven figure careers.

Here are five ways to release the fear of being "too much":

1. Approve of yourself.

While it feels good to receive outside validation it will never be enough if you don't first appreciate yourself. The key to having a healthy support system is to make sure you are part of it. Being your biggest critic is what your mother's generation did. It's now time to be your biggest cheerleader. Becoming aware of self talk will reveal what belief is ready to be re-wired. Create a simply mantra that affirms how incredible capable you are.

2. Connect deeply to those you serve.

One powerful way to shift out of people pleasing behavior is to get clear on who actually matters to the wellbeing and success of your life and business. Leadership is not about being the most popular, instead it's a decision to be brave for those who can't be. Take a few minutes each day to visualize and meditate on those your business serves and supports. See your future clients moving toward you every time you choose to stand in your power and use your authentic voice.

3. Remember the legacy you wish to leave.

Having your life purpose and legacy in writing is one of the most transformational exercises you can do. Reading this often will keep you focused on what matters. Knowing what you wish to leave in the hearts of those you love most is incredibly grounding. You didn't come here to keep your mouth shut, dilute your truth, or dim your light-you came here to make a difference.

4. Forgive those who have been unsupportive in the past.

The past has a way of informing the future in a negative way when there is unresolved pain. Take a few minutes to get quiet and ask yourself who you have unforgiveness towards or maybe their name came to mind as you read this article. Listening to a forgiveness meditation or writing a letter to the person you are ready to forgive are both simple and effective ways to process and heal.

5. Be part a community of bright, successful women.

Meaningful relationships with others who have similar aspirations is what will keep you out of isolation and playing small. These connections can happen in a networking group, online community or a local Meetup. Thriving in every area of life is depend on you knowing where you belong and being celebrated there. Don't wait to be invited, go actively seek out people and places that support your dreams and desires.

6. Accept you can have it all.

Women have been fed a lie for generations that says, you can have love or money. Decide you can have it all and allow it to flow to you. You can have a successful career and an amazing mother. You can balance motherhood and loving marriage. Don't let anyone write the rules for you. This is the time to create the life you desire on your terms.

7. Celebrate everything!

The fastest way to leave the haters in the dust is to celebrate everything! At the end of each day lay in bed and recall the best moments. At the end of each week, publicly acknowledge and celebrate what's good in your life. Once a month, have a celebration dinner and share it with those who have helped you in the journey. If there's something good happening, talk about it with everyone who will listen!

May you be a woman who chooses to shine so that others may be reminded of all they can be and do.