The Leadership Skill of Kindness

When you interviewed for your most recent position, were you asked about your ability to be kind? What about when you’re interviewing someone for a leadership position…do you ask about how they lead with kindness?

If it seems too soft or ambiguous to ask during an interview, consider this:

Kindness is an interpersonal skill that requires a certain amount of strength and courage to effectively embody.

Even though sympathy and caring for others is considered instinctual, consideration, empathy, and compassion must be consciously employed in order to lead others with kindness.

Kindness should be a prerequisite leadership skill and, as such, we should inquire about it during interviews and include it in performance feedback.

In my work as a coach, I have found that kind managers increase morale, decrease absenteeism, and are better able to retain employees, and may even improve their employee’s health and longevity (less stress improves our cardiovascular health)!

Kind managers understand that there is no kindness in allowing problematic behavior to continue, and they prioritize difficult conversations with their problematic employees to prevent ongoing deterioration of their organizational culture. Kind managers work to improve the lives of their employees. How?

Put Kindness on Your Radar

It’s easy to focus on the negative, but when you intentionally focus on acts of kindness, your body is rewarded in a very positive way.

Research from 88 studies involving over 25,000 participants found that those who witness an act of kindness—from cooperative action to comforting someone in distress—tend to pass on compassion at work themselves. In the study, the definition of witnessing included reading about, watching in a video, or seeing the act of kindness “live.”

When you witness others being praised for their kindness, your motivation to act kindly also increases. However, the more time passes after seeing compassion, the less inspired you feel. As a leader, you can keep those levels high by cultivating a culture of kindness in your workplace!


Keep a journal at work and precisely track acts of kindness you notice occurring within your workplace: positive praise in person or emails, acts of kindness in person, etc.

Where are you seeing a lot of kindness occurring in your workplace?

Where are you seeing a lack of kindness?

Check back for the next post when I dive into the social conditions that prevent kindness at work and how to shift them. In the meantime, please let me know if kindness is a prerequisite leadership skill in your organization. I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.