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The Kind Leader: Book Interview with Katie Anderson

It was so much fun to be interviewed about The Kind Leader by my friend Katie Anderson!

1. (0:50) What are the three biggest myths about kind leadership?

I’ve talked to a lot of people, and in writing this book, I’ve discovered that the three biggest myths about kindness are these:

(1:05) The first is that kindness is a sign of weakness. That’s just totally incorrect because when you think about it, it takes a lot of strength to be a leader. Sometimes, you have to have a difficult discussion with someone, and tell them something that they might not want to hear. To do that in a kind way, takes a lot of strength. So it actually takes more strength to be kind than it does to not be kind.

(2:00) The second myth is that kind and nice are the same thing. Actually, there’s a huge difference between being kind and being nice, and it has to do with that idea of weakness as well. Many times, we think about doing the nice thing, because we don’t want to make somebody feel uncomfortable. We don’t want to upset them, so we may not tell them the truth. But, often, that’s an unkind thing to do, if we have an employee or team member who’s struggling.

(3:21) The third myth is that all of this is a waste of time because the people who are unkind leaders are never going to read the book and are never going to care. Firstly, everybody thinks that they’re kind. And secondly, it really doesn’t matter because when we want to change a system, we change the inputs and then it goes through the process and different outputs come out. By thinking kindly, speaking kindly, and acting kindly, we change the system. Every single act of kindness you do, every single word you speak kindly, every kind thought that you have, changes the system.

2. (04:40) How can we start shifting from an unkind to a kind culture?

First, let me assure you, you are a leader, whether at work, whether informally, at home when you’re a parent, if you’re a coach, if you’re teaching a community class, if you’re involved in a community organization, you are influencing people by your actions, reactions, your words, and people are following you. So, the best place to start with any change is to practice it yourself. You’re going to see the result of this immediately.

3. (07:18) Are you kind all the time?

I am absolutely not kind all the time. I always say to people, kindness is a practice that takes practice, and kind leadership is a practice that takes practice and the more we practice, the more comfortable we get, the more confident we get, the better we get, the more it becomes a habit.

Kindness is a practice that takes practice – Karyn Ross

4. (09:53) How do you see the difference between introspection and reflection?

Introspection means really looking in at ourselves and saying, did I accomplish or not accomplish, or did I act in the way that I wanted to? Did I act with kindness whether or not we reached the target, or not. Did I treat others with kindness? Was I kind to myself?

5. (12:48) What is your goal for how to increase kindness in the world this year?

Every year I sort of create a theme to think about, and this year’s theme is to think small.

6. (14:45) I’m curious what you learned through the process of writing The Kind Leader.

In the past, what I found is that if I do all the writing first, then it’s easier to do all the drawings second. I started off thinking that’s how I’m going to write The Kind Leader but it didn’t work that way. So I actually sometimes did the drawing first, then writing, and then back to some drawing. I learned, you know what, each book is going to have its own process. And the creative flow changes based on the situation.

7. (16:45) What is a question you aren’t usually asked about either the book or kind leadership, that you’d like to answer?

I am usually not asked the question why. Really why did I write this book now?

I write about lean, why am I going to write about kind leadership? Why am I going to write about something I haven’t written about before?

The truth is, it’s needed. During the pandemic I really saw a lot of unkindness. I thought something’s gotta change. So, that’s why I decided to write a book about kind leadership at this time.

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