Kindness, kindness and kindness are the three most important words in the English language.
- Joyce F. Anderson
The only true legacy a leader leaves behind is how they made other people feel. Nobody is going to remember us for the awards, plaques or metrics attained in any given year. They remember us based on the impact we made on them when we were with them. What is even more sobering is how we show up can have an impact on our families. People pay more attention to what we do versus what we say—this includes our children.
I have written a lot about my dad, The General, in my books and in my blogs. I realized at my mother’s recent funeral and celebrations of life how she was the one who modeled Selflessness in my life.
Every individual I spoke with during her two months in hospice and the subsequent weeks of mourning, focused about how my mother made them feel. She made people feel important. She listened, leaned in and encouraged everyone she encountered. This was not a sign of weakness on her part. This was her strength. And in response, people would do anything for her.
Too many times, leaders believe having strength means you need to be tough. But, a leader who is hard does not receive commitment from their teams. Instead, they only get compliance. Compliance is a short-term, short-sighted leadership strategy. There is a better way. We can be strong and kind.
I watched my mother be incredibly kind and infinitely stronger than some of my former leaders. Many of these individuals posed and made big blustery statements, but in the end—nobody was committed to them or their proposed strategies. Instead, we simply did what we were told. These were mediocre teams who never reached their potential.
One of the easiest and most overlooked ways a leader can exercise Selflessness is to be kind. I’m not talking about a fake, “I need to be nice because people are watching” kindness. I am talking about genuine caring.
What does it look like? It is a willingness to look someone in the eye and ask them their name. It means choosing to smile and ask others questions about themselves. It means thanking someone, even if they gave you mediocre service.
Treating each person as if they were the most important person you will meet that day—speaks of your character. Listen longer. Encourage everyone. Leave everyone in a better place than where you found them. This is kindness. This is the way my mom led by example. This is Selflessness. And I am so proud my mother demonstrated such strength and dignity for me and my children to follow.
Dig Deep Questions:
What will your legacy be on the people you lead?
Who do you know who is both kind and strong?
How does that individual inspire you?
Taking responsibility and exercising Selflessness is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Selflessness part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Selflessness, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.
Get your FREE Selflessness posters available for download at: https://www.becomingaleaderofcharacter.com/tools-resources