And unkind leadership simply leads to more unkindness...and more unkind leadership...
The other day I was reading an article about how stress, frustration and upset from the pandemic are leading to people’s bad behavior on airplanes, in stores on the roads. People yelling (or worst) at those who don’t share their beliefs or act in the way they think they should…and then those people reacting in the same way. Situations escalate into confrontations that cause physical and psychological harm.
So here is my first Reflection from 2021: Two wrongs don’t make a right…and responding to unkindness with unkindness only leads to escalation and more unkindness. This is especially important to understand and keep in mind when you are in a leadership role.
At this time last year, I was deep in the thick of writing The Kind Leader. I hadn’t been planning to write a book about either kindness or leadership, but seeing and hearing so many stories of unkindness around me made me realize that I needed to do something to help people learn how to act, speak and think kindly even - and especially - when they are stressed and overwhelmed. Because responding with unkindness to unkindness only escalates situations, and as it’s broadcast and replayed over and over again on the news and social media, it gives others a model, and permission, to act unkindly as well. The actions you take, and the words you speak, as a leader, are amplified in others people's ears, minds and hearts.
When we are stressed, worried, overwhelmed and emotional, it may be harder to respond to unkindness with kindness. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible or that we don’t have the ability to choose to do it. We do. And as leaders we must. We can lower our voices, we can breathe deeply and walk away until we feel calmer. We can ask questions instead of shouting accusations. We can meet unkindness with kindness, and show people, by example a better way to be and kinder, better ways to lead.