Boss Lady

Why kindness shouldn’t be underestimated as one of the leadership tools


Kindness should never be overlooked or underestimated as one of the key valuable leadership tools. It has been proven to have an impact on people’s happiness, and happier people are 12 per cent more productive, and according to a study by Warwick University. ‘Happier workers use the time they have more effectively,’ the study claims, ‘increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.’ In other words: kind leadership also means good business.

Kindness isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think about great leadership tools, right? Well, I’m here to challenge that. I strongly believe that leading with kindness is what will separate good leaders from great leaders of the future.  I believe that kindness is the new leadership tools superpower – it’s a new and powerful currency that can be traded for high performance and strong results.

You may have heard of – or worse, experienced first-hand – situations of bullying, intimidation or dealing with difficult people in the workplace. This kind of behaviour can be very destructive to both people and organisations. Unfortunately, these are issues that have been around for a long time and will only continue until leaders step up and start leading with kindness and compassion. The old style of leadership was about status, title, power, dictatorship and having people do what you say. The new style ofleadership tools is about kindness, compassion, authenticity, collaboration and trust – and being a leader people choose to follow.

It’s a common misconception that being a kind leader makes you a weak leader. I believe that being a kind leader requires courage and strength. Kind leaders are very capable of making good and strong business decisions – even tough decisions with kindness.

Kind leadership brings in all the different elements of authenticity, transparency, warmth, trust and empowerment. When we talk about kind leadership, what we really mean is including a little of each of these different attributes in your day-to-day leadership.

I believe it’s time for kind leaders to step up and have a voice and be the game changers for our generation and future generations. We may not be able to change the past, but we can shape the future.

Kindness starts at the top and is one of my values when it comes to the way I lead.

I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give another is kindness. Being a kind leader is essential in today’s world and in my experience, it leads to happier, more collaborative and more productive teams.

A huge part of being a great leader is understanding and valuing the people you lead. It’s about embracing the different personalities you work with and creating a culture that encourages individuals to bring their best selves to work each day. Employees want more consistent feedback, delivered with kindness; they want to build trust within their peer group, develop meaningful relationships and have a better life
in balance.

My role as a leader has always been to create a ‘circle of trust’ for my people. A circle of trust is a space where people feel safe; it means that people feel confident to speak up, challenge the status quo and bring new thinking and ideas to the table. It means that when you fall over, you know someone will be there to help you pick yourself back up. It means looking after the people to the left and right of you. It also means having clear expectations, setting boundaries and providing honest, open feedback.

When leaders create a circle of trust, people feel supported, more connected and more fulfilled at work. They contribute more of themselves and will always work harder to see that the leader’s vision is advanced.

Kindness can apply to many areas of your life: at work, in your relationships, with your children and within your community. Being a leader isn’t just about how you ‘manage staff: if you’re a parent, you’re leading tiny humans every day. If you work alongside others, you have the opportunity to model kind behaviour. If you are a partner, you can bring love and compassion to another.

Kindness may be one of the least acknowledged and appreciated leadership tools, however I believe it’s one of the most important and also has so many benefits not only to the receiver, but also the giver, whether that’s in organisations or just in our day-to-day lives. In my experience, organisations that value kindness have higher employee engagement, lower turnover of their teams and higher productivity.

Kindness empowers others to lead with positivity, purpose and an open mind. This encourages new ideas, innovation and collaboration.  When leaders show kindness, they accelerate trust and in turn create happier, more engaged, motivated and empowered employees who will be inspired to share and deliver on the organisation’s goals and vision.

It’s time to shine the spotlight on leading with kindness in every aspect of our lives.

About Colleen Callander

Colleen Callander, author of Leader By Design (Major Street Publishing $29.95) and former CEO, is a renowned business and leadership coach, keynote speaker, board member and ambassador. She is also the founder of Mentor Me, a platform through which Colleen mentors women from all different walks of life. Find out more at

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