The Value Of A Simple Act

Yesterday, I was entering a local market as a young man was holding the door open for an elderly woman.  She was walking slowly, but he patiently waited for her to make her passage through the doorway.  One teenager who was waiting on the other side mouthed “hurry up,” but the man didn’t respond except to smile.  After the woman had safely passed through to the other side, the helping man sought out a bottle of water and walked up to the cashier, who said, “No charge.  Thanks for helping her.”

Kindness is difficult to price because it’s kindness – a generous act without expectation of a favor in return.  In our professional literature you will be pressed to find a management bestseller or article about it, but it is one of the most profitable strategies you can employ because:

  • Kindness often inspires a positive response, whatever the circumstance or environment.  Most of us remember when we have been treated with goodwill in the workplace and we typically look forward to the opportunity to return the favor.
  • Kindness reinforces the perception of leadership because it allies with other leadership qualities like maturity and fairness.  Teams and groups members value kindness as an expression of the leader’s ability to consider individual and group needs simultaneously. They feel that when the opportunity comes they will be treated with compassion, even in as difficult a situation as a layoff.
  • Kindness helps a business leader nurture a sense of perspective.  When you take a minute to slow down in your busy life and focus on the immediate needs of another through your actions, you increase your ability to sharpen your focus on important issues, despite the challenges of a hectic business environment.

Kindness is not at odds with visionary strategy, tough decisions, guerilla marketing, or aggressive competition.  However, it can be a resonant differentiator in your internal and external marketplaces.