It has been a long time since I’ve picked up a book to read that has so acutely aligned with not only my approach to leadership and business, but also my core beliefs and values. In his new book, “The Heart of Business,” former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy, Hubert Joly, has articulated what we at Dexian have been passionately advocating for, implementing, and researching since our inception: the need for, and the power of, kind leadership and cultures. This has been at the heart of our business, and it is something that will continue to influence us as we chart our path to the future.
We continue to research and quantify what we’ve known anecdotally for years – that kind leadership and a culture of kindness is fundamental to building impactful connections to our stakeholders and driving better talent outcomes, competitive advantage, and innovation. In fact, we are embarking on our third annual Humankindex Study.
I won’t spend the time here spouting the impressive facts and statistics that have proven this theory from our research, for that you can visit www.humankindex.com. Rather, I’d simply like to share some overarching conclusions we’ve uncovered that closely align with what Joly says, “the architecture I am advocating has employees at the heart of business, creating and nurturing caring and authentic relationships both within the company and also with all of the company’s stakeholders in a way that not only contributes to the company’s purpose but also creates great outcomes for each of these stakeholders.”
Something’s Not Working.
Amid the numerous shifts in worker mindsets and circumstances over the past several years, from the pandemic, the Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, remote work, and more, something has so clearly been missing in our workplaces.
While kindness may appear the antithesis of business-focused, our research has found that kind leadership and cultures not only have a place in business, but they may also be the key to unlocking the value and potential of a company’s greatest asset – it’s people.
In fact, not only are today’s workers seeking kind leadership and values in a job or employer – now more than ever – but according to most, it is what companies need to build a high-performance workforce.
Why? Because central to a culture and leadership style built on kindness is ensuring employees feel valued, supported, and have a sense of belonging or shared purpose with their job and their employer. It is only then that employees become truly motivated, fulfilled, and invested in their own success and that of the business.
A Reason for Being, Beyond Profits & Grounded in Humanity.
Clearly, profits matter in business. Without them, organizations wouldn’t survive. But is it best to lead with that? Or could putting kind leadership and culture first actually generate greater profit (and by the way, be the right thing to do)?
When employees become self-fulfilled, engaged, motivated, and truly see the meaning and purpose in their jobs, they are better able to apply, refine, and grow their talents in areas such as creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. Organizations that embrace a culture of kindness create a powerful, motivated workforce capable of driving even greater innovation, productivity, performance, and competitive advantage.
Time and again, workers and C-level executives in our Humankindex Study have pointed to kindness and a shared sense of purpose between their job and the company as having a positive impact on their ability to innovate and to create a more innovative work environment – to the tune of 5X more than those who don’t embrace kindness.
Disconnection is the Foe.
Studies have long documented disconnects between corporate leaders and their workers, even before the past several years that upended the business world. As companies look to move forward, we can’t ignore the changes this has prompted in employees’ values, expectations, and desires when it comes to their job and workplace culture and the persistent disconnects regarding values, leadership, and culture at nearly all levels of the organization.
This is particularly evident in our Humankindex research. Large-scale disconnects and misalignment continue to exist between leadership and workers, specifically around the actions business leaders have made (or haven’t made) to adapt their culture to changing employee sentiments and needs.
Arguably, disconnection throughout the workplace may be behind exits, disengagement, and dissatisfaction among workers and even a lack of fulfillment among those who lead them. I’d argue that there is a reason that humans are collectively called humankind. That Joly has it right, “that purpose and human connections constitute the very heart of business.”
We’ve Just Scratched the Surface.
Although we’ve embraced kindness throughout our culture and history, we believe the power of kind leadership has never been so necessary or relevant as it is today. That’s why we’ve invested in proprietary research and resources to continue to track and measure the role of kindness in driving business excellence, and in advising our clients and other stakeholders on its many merits.
I invite you to reconsider how you view kindness and its place in the business world, and to hear how employees feel about kindness in the workplace by connecting with me here. And sign up for updates, access a range of insights, and stay tuned for the 2023 Humankindex Study results at www.humankindex.com.