6 reasons why being kind in business is your key to success
What does ‘being kind’ mean? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a kind person is ‘generous, helpful, and thinking about other people's feelings’. If we apply this definition to a business environment, we can easily picture a business owner or leader who supports their peers in practical ways, who cares about the wellbeing of their staff and team members, and who puts collaboration above competition. With the image that we often have of the ‘shark’ business owner or leader, can we encounter kind people in the business world?
The answer is ‘yes’. When I first started my business (Mind It alongside Leeds Wellbeing Week), I was happily surprised by how open some business owners were when I met them at networking events in the North of England (Leeds, Yorkshire). At that stage, all I had was a rough business idea, yet some business owners or leaders were ready to spend some time with me to meet over a cup of coffee to talk my project over, bounce ideas, and introduce me to their network. I first thought this was due to Leeds’s mindset of openness and warmth (which I experienced first-hand!).
And even though the Leeds location surely played a part, I could observe two additional traits in these business owners and leaders:
A helpful personality: some people are kind by design, they have it in their DNA and would always be keen to help and put the others before themselves. Very often, this trait is seen as a weakness in society, stemming from the belief that you have to be on top of the crowd to be successful, even though you are likely to hurt some people on the way. Yet being helpful does not mean that they will never be successful: you can be kind and strong, kind and know what you want, kind and say no.
A generous attitude: ‘Attitude’ is a key word in business, and in many business schools, scholars talk about the ‘can do’ attitude which summarises the entrepreneurial spirit. I would add that kindness is also a ‘will do’ attitude: to actually make that introduction you said you would make, to send that ‘thank you’ note to someone who supported you, etc. Meeting people who supported me at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey in a new country and a new city really emphasised how kindness is key to success in business, and this even if we take the common definition of ‘success’ in our society as ‘having power and money’. Being kind is the best way to succeed in general, and for this definition of success in particular.
Here are our 6 reasons why being kind to others in business is your path to success. Being kind...
Is your best weapon in networking: no one forgets a warm welcome, a generous action or a useful business introduction. By giving to others, you will get from others. ‘You get what you give’ or ‘you harvest what you sow’, as the adage states, is still an unshakable truth.
Enables you to build stronger relationships, and strong business relationships pay off in terms of partnerships, collaboration opportunities, introductions, etc.
Makes you work on collaboration above competition. We do not all need to be successful in the same things. Understanding that you have one area of expertise and can support others in their own areas of expertise by collaborating will broaden your spectrum, as well as your client base.
Will attract like-minded people, with the same set of values and compassionate mindset, who will support and carry you further with less obstacles to face.
Gives you more balance in life and gets you to redefine ‘success’. It is not all ‘power and money’. Free time, family, friends, … are all part of your success too.
Gets you to be kind to yourself! A key aspect to avoid burnout or mental health issues is to look after yourself. By being kind to yourself, you will allow yourself to take that day off, to go to the gym, to lie down when needed, etc. As difficult as it might sound, this is key to success, because no one will be looking after your business when you are off because of burnout (or worse).
No one will be looking after your business when you are off because of burnout (or worse).
How to deal with competition in a non-kind environment?
Think about the long-term relationships above the short-term gains. You might not win that contract now, but you are building a long-term business surrounded by people with the same mindset. In the long run, you will outstand the competition while being able to sleep at night because you would have a more balanced lifestyle and be in line with your values. Promise.
What does ‘being kind by design’ mean?
For yourself, you would try to implement kindness in every area of your personal and professional life. For your organisation, this would mean putting kindness at the centre of your business model, and in every area of your business model canvas. This is not only for charities, public sector organisations or social enterprises, but for every organisation, yours included. We did cover these aspects in the ‘Making Money with Kindness’ webinar as part of Kinder Leeds festival, earlier this month (September 2020), so feel free to reach the resources on Kinder Leeds’s website to find out more and watch again.
Oh, and strong close relationships and looking after yourself are also the key to happiness, according to this 75-year long Harvard study. So, if not kindness and success, let’s focus on kindness and happiness!