Kindness in Leadership Kindness in Leadership

Kindness in Leadership
29 Aug 2018

 Kindness in Leadership

Edited by Gay Haskins, Mike Thomas, and Lalit Johri.

Culture is a hot topic at the moment, and this book, which is a collection of papers on the topic, is an interesting addition to the mix in that it tackles the ethereal quality of ‘kindness’.

The review copy came signed “With kindest regards”, which I thought was a lovely, humorous touch – and in fact, there is much to be said in praise of the work in general. It certainly provokes greater reflection than do most other books on such a well-trodden subject.

There are plenty of quotes and comments from contributors that are interesting in and of themselves, and the editors have been careful to ensure a good balance in terms of contributions. At the end of each chapter, there are also “food for thought” questions, which provide exactly that.

Kindness is defined and the origin of the word itself explained, as is the rationale for kindness from religious, philosophical, biological and scientific perspectives, all of which is stimulating.

But exploring the topic within a management and leadership context also feels new for other reasons. As was the case with early studies on leadership, there is a presumption that to be kind is a natural ability. Moreover, to say that “Our personal circumstances can affect our propensity for kindness” (page 17) or that “Kindness can make people happier” is perhaps a bit simplistic.

Further exploration

Certainly, the subject could bear further exploration in areas such as the circumstances under which it would be possible to most effectively create, nurture and behave with kindness, on the basis that it should create a more harmonious environment, which in turn has organisational advantages.

It would also be interesting to see if a system of systems grid could be applied in this context, exploring such questions, for example, as can kindness be taught? (According to Kathleen Henson, founder and chief executive of marketing communications firm Agency H5: (page 199) “You can’t teach it – you either are kind or you’re not”.) Can the rewards of kindness be quantified? What resources are required to create a kind organisation?

Normally, books of this type argue the case for business leaders taking a certain approach or action and provide evidence of the benefits of doing so. But this work is different. On the whole, it does not push the case for kindness, but instead dangles the word before us, teases us with the notion and asks us to make up our own mind.

Having said that, the paper on “Kindness in sports performance” does neatly sidestep quite how far kindness could be expected to go in a boxing match!

But in the end, the book raises more questions than it answers – although quite possibly that is what it is designed to do. The comments included from contributors, as mentioned above, are well balanced. There is a refreshing lack of tub-thumping, and the work does not simply appear to have been produced as a brochure to sell further training and courses. It is, in fact, well-structured and well-researched. I keenly await a follow-up on the subject.

Mark Northway

Mark Northway is director and courses co-ordinator at Deltic Training, which provides strategic administration and business management courses and accredited qualifications. He is a former director and trustee of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), a chief IAM examiner and a Princes Trust Award winner for his role in business mentoring in the UK.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Mind tools for managers: 100 ways to be a better boss

The Power of Company Culture

Emotional Intelligence @work

 

 

 Kindness in Leadership

Edited by Gay Haskins, Mike Thomas, and Lalit Johri.

Culture is a hot topic at the moment, and this book, which is a collection of papers on the topic, is an interesting addition to the mix in that it tackles the ethereal quality of ‘kindness’.

The review copy came signed “With kindest regards”, which I thought was a lovely, humorous touch – and in fact, there is much to be said in praise of the work in general. It certainly provokes greater reflection than do most other books on such a well-trodden subject.

There are plenty of quotes and comments from contributors that are interesting in and of themselves, and the editors have been careful to ensure a good balance in terms of contributions. At the end of each chapter, there are also “food for thought” questions, which provide exactly that.

Kindness is defined and the origin of the word itself explained, as is the rationale for kindness from religious, philosophical, biological and scientific perspectives, all of which is stimulating.

But exploring the topic within a management and leadership context also feels new for other reasons. As was the case with early studies on leadership, there is a presumption that to be kind is a natural ability. Moreover, to say that “Our personal circumstances can affect our propensity for kindness” (page 17) or that “Kindness can make people happier” is perhaps a bit simplistic.

Further exploration

Certainly, the subject could bear further exploration in areas such as the circumstances under which it would be possible to most effectively create, nurture and behave with kindness, on the basis that it should create a more harmonious environment, which in turn has organisational advantages.

It would also be interesting to see if a system of systems grid could be applied in this context, exploring such questions, for example, as can kindness be taught? (According to Kathleen Henson, founder and chief executive of marketing communications firm Agency H5: (page 199) “You can’t teach it – you either are kind or you’re not”.) Can the rewards of kindness be quantified? What resources are required to create a kind organisation?

Normally, books of this type argue the case for business leaders taking a certain approach or action and provide evidence of the benefits of doing so. But this work is different. On the whole, it does not push the case for kindness, but instead dangles the word before us, teases us with the notion and asks us to make up our own mind.

Having said that, the paper on “Kindness in sports performance” does neatly sidestep quite how far kindness could be expected to go in a boxing match!

But in the end, the book raises more questions than it answers – although quite possibly that is what it is designed to do. The comments included from contributors, as mentioned above, are well balanced. There is a refreshing lack of tub-thumping, and the work does not simply appear to have been produced as a brochure to sell further training and courses. It is, in fact, well-structured and well-researched. I keenly await a follow-up on the subject.

Mark Northway

Mark Northway is director and courses co-ordinator at Deltic Training, which provides strategic administration and business management courses and accredited qualifications. He is a former director and trustee of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), a chief IAM examiner and a Princes Trust Award winner for his role in business mentoring in the UK.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Mind tools for managers: 100 ways to be a better boss

The Power of Company Culture

Emotional Intelligence @work