LARK – An Indispensable Tool for Leadership Greatness

Say it ain’t so… not another acronym for business success?

Yep, afraid so – but this acronym is not just another run-of-the-mill business platitude.

This concept maybe one of the most important and indispensable tools for achieving leadership greatness.

Ok, enlighten me.

Great leaders regularly and unabashedly give “Leadership Acts of Random Kindness” – or … LARK.

What is a “Leadership Act of Random Kindness” (LARK)?

Leadership Acts of Random Kindness are the small gestures of appreciation and the everyday acts of common courtesy that leaders give freely to people at every level in an organization.  A LARK is given without expectation of something in return; it is given freely from the heart.

Leadership Acts of Random Kindness are not about money or material things.  Sure, under the right circumstances, monetary gifts can bring about short-term results.  A LARK goes far beyond money or material awards.

A LARK is a gift of your attention… a gift of your time… a gift of your spirit.

Aesop once wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

If you believe that leading with kindness is essential for leadership greatness, here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate “Leadership Acts of Random Kindness” (LARK) into your basic leadership principles:

  • Start with the Truth – Being kind means being honest.  Kindness must be genuine; it must be based in reality.  If you have a tough decision to make or if you need to deliver difficult news, do it!  Just do it with kindness and respect.
  • Make it Personal - Generic forms of recognition or appreciation often will fail to impress or motivate an individual.  Your Leadership Acts of Random Kindness (LARK) should have meaning that is specific and tailored to each person.
  • Focus on Small Gestures of Kindness – Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most.  Smile.  Say “Thank You” … again, and again.  Ask questions.  Remember people’s names and related personal information.  Take a colleague to lunch.  Celebrate the significant milestones in people’s lives.  Oh yes, say “Thank You” again.
  • Recognize People… often and with sincerity – Show appreciation for people’s contributions.  Find ways to say, “You really made a difference today.”  Or, “Your Work on the (fill in the blank) really helped the team.”  Make your recognition personalized… timely… and meaningful.  Celebrate successes… especially the small victories.
  • Put it in Writing – While email messages are good for routine business communications, nothing beats a handwritten note of thanks or praise.  Keep personalized stationery on hand for these occasions; even a “post-it” note placed on a computer screen with 3 or 4 short handwritten sentences of appreciation (remember to be specific) can make a person’s day.
  • Give Encouragement… especially to a teammate or peer that needs it – People never seem to tire of getting well-timed expressions of encouragement.
  • Give People More Visibility – Find Ways to promote your team’s accomplishments to senior management.  This LARK is a great team motivator and it may engender fierce loyalty.  Share the spotlight.  As Harry Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
  • Be Present – Give the gift of your time… your attention… your expertise… your optimism… your compassion… and yes, even your forgiveness.
  • Make Kindness a Core Leadership Value – When others see you “walk the talk”, they will be more inclined to lead with kindness.  Kindness is a compelling organizational strategy… it’s also extremely ‘contagious’.
  • See Kindness in Others – By doing so, you strengthen your capacity for tolerance and patience.  Humility and empathy are wondrous expressions of kindness… especially when dealing with difficult people.  Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.”

Most good leaders recognize that when you connect with a person’s mind you get intellectual acceptance.

Great leaders know that when you touch a person’s heart with kindness and compassion, you ignite the flames of passion… commitment… and excellence.

So, give LARK a try.

You may be surprised how far it will take you and your organization.

Some Final Thoughts –

Here are some additional ideas for showing that you care and for giving back:

  • Send a hand written note of thanks for great customer service
  • Pay the toll for the person behind you
  • Volunteer your help randomly
  • Be kind to your environment
  • Cheer the dispirited
  • Deliver a basket of goodies to an old folk’s or children’s home
  • Do a secret act of service
  • Let the person in a hurry behind you, go before you
  • Share a smile
  • Skip your expensive lunch today and donate the money to the needy
  • Read to a child
  • Treat a friend to a movie for no reason
  • Be kind to stray cats and dogs
  • Lend a helping hand to a distraught parent
  • Hear the homeless – collect old clothes from family and friends and take them to the closest shelter

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