“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” –Amelia Earhart
There are three big dates on the calendar in November. In the US, Election Day offers the privilege and choice to express our views on those willing to serve. Veterans Day acknowledges those who have served and sacrificed for freedom. And Thanksgiving Day, introduced by George Washington in 1789 and reestablished by Abraham Lincoln in 1963, sets aside time for families to celebrate their blessings. Another date, not as widely practiced, is World Kindness Day on November 13th.
While some leaders roll their eyes and offer skepticism about World Kindness Day, with the cost of incivility in the workplace rising, more leaders are curious about what they can do. They wonder if demonstrating kindness can make a difference. Current research suggests that there are distinct benefits not only for the person receiving a kindness, but for the giver and those who witness a kindness, as well.
A recent book by David R Hamilton, PhD., The Five Side Effects of Kindness (2017) identifies the kindness benefit as: happiness, heart health, longevity, better relationships and positive ripple effects. In fact, kind acts, when witnessed, are contagious and inspire third-party observers to be similarly good, kind, courageous and compassionate. Leaders can build a culture of respect and more positive working relationships by modeling kind actions in the workplace.
A series of Oxford University experiments showed that another benefit of leaders choosing to be kind is that it has a positive effect on them personally. People being kind were happier, more satisfied with life, more compassionate, trusting, regarded humanity more positively and had greater social connections.
You may wonder about the difference between acts of kindness and random ones. Random Acts of Kindness may have a greater impact in the workplace than those that are planned. There is a belief that kind people deserve kindness. When someone receives a kindness, whether they’ve earned it or not, the randomness implies that every person has inherent value and is worthy of kindness. The random acts seemed to boost morale, anticipation and positive outlooks.
Kind acts have distinct benefits for leaders. And with recent natural disasters, violence and tragedies across our nation and around the world, employees seek leaders who offer encouragement and kind acts to help renew the human spirit. Take a moment to choose an act of leadership kindness today. Make a donation, volunteer, send a note or do something unexpected.
For suggestions, download Leadership and Random Acts of Kindness.