The Honey vs. Vinegar Approach to Leading

Kindness is being purposeful and generous with others. It’s certainly what we try to do during the Holiday Season.

At least in our personal lives.

But what about leading with kindness? This is not about being the nice boss. Or even having a leadership title.

Leading with kindness about having strength in your purpose and warmly inviting others to help realize that purpose. Like using honey as bait, it’s irresistible.

I think this approach applies to leading a Girl Scout troop or Fortune 500 Corporation and every other group in-between.

Kind Leaders are Strong

Kindness is not weakness. You must be, strong, honest and fair when:

It’d be easy to berate someone, to instead cut a little slack, while firmly pointing out what missed the mark.

Cutting ties when there’s no good way forward. If you’re having the same conversation over and over, it’s time to end the relationship or leave the topic alone for good.

And Bring Out People’s Best

You’ll help people discover their best. As you coax people to make use of those best-of-self abilities your steady look-‘em-in-the-eyes gaze as puts a backbone in your leadership when you:

Make the new gal lead on an important project and help her think through how to match-up her abilities to the task at hand, so that it’s a successful effort.

Redirect a team member who undercuts the value of her contributions and stagnates, to prevents a loss for him and the team.

Share an encouraging word about the best you see in people. The toss away “good job”, becomes a way you point of the value of what’s just part of the job. ‘“Job well done Sam. Talking with Mrs. Cliburn about the repair work done on her car, so that she understood is key to maintaining our reputation. And to building a lasting relationship, because she knows we’ll treat her right.

Encourage specific actions and use of people’s abilities and you’ll get more of those, easily.

Make People Feel Good They’ll Do Well

A kind leader makes people feel good: joyful, excited and appreciated.

Good feelings trip the “Do more of this” signal, which inspires people to strive for bigger goals.

They’re linked to flexibility in thinking. Thinking about something in a new way (new ideas) and thinking about oneself in a new way (‘hey turns out I can do that)’.

They push people’s creativity button, that’s needed to keep up with the pace of change.

Where we feel good we want to spend time and do well.

My invitation to you is to find 1 way everyday for the next 3 days to be a kind leader. See what happens when you do. If you have a quick minute, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.


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