Kindness isn't just a cure for hate and harm, it's what prevents them in the first place.
Like many people, I was horrified to hear that last week a hate group of Neo-Nazi's declared that this past Saturday, September 25th, a "National Day of Hate". As I was reflecting on how this could actually happen, it reminded me of why I wrote The Kind Leader in the first place.
In 2020, I, and many others noticed that there was an uptick in political leaders who were speaking and acting unkindly to groups such as disabled people, women, people of color, 2SLGBTQIA+ and transgender people. I also noticed that the more unkindly those leaders spoke and acted, the more incidents of hate and harm seemed to occur. Sadly, this wasn't just conjecture or in my imagination.
NPR reported in September 2021 that hate crimes had reached their highest level in a decade and that "Nearly two of every three hate crimes reported last year — 64% — were motivated by a bias against race, ethnicity or ancestry, the FBI said. Of all hate crimes, 36% were anti-Black or anti-African-American, 10% were anti-white and 9% were anti-Jewish."
The simple fact is, when leaders speak and act unkindly they give permission to their followers to speak and act in those same unkind ways. Those unkind ways lead to hate, and ultimately to harm. Both physical and psychological.
Often, we think of kindness as a "cure" for the harm created by people speaking and acting in hateful ways. However, there is no need to wait until that harm has been done.
Leaders who speak and act kindly, and who model kindness can prevent hate and it's harmful outcomes for individuals, groups, countries and the world.
And that is why I wrote The Kind Leader: A Practical Guide to Eliminating Fear, Creating Trust and Leading with Kindness. To give leaders at work, at home and in the community the specific behaviors and practices that they can use, starting right now, to reduce and eliminate hate and harm.
In this age of 24 hour news and social media, a leader's words and actions travel fast, travel far and have a huge impact. Unkind words and actions create hate and harm.
You don't have to passively accept that status quo. Even if you don't have a formal leadership role, at many points in the day, people are following you. You are a leader. At work, at home and in the community. Your leadership counts. And your kindness counts. And they are unbelievably important...
Because Kind Leaders' words and actions don't just cure that hate and harm, they prevent them.
If you haven't already, please pick up your copy of The Kind Leader: A Practical Guide to Eliminating Fear, Creating Trust and Leading with Kindness...and start practicing!