The Paradox of Kindness

Confused about the “Paradox of Kindness”?

Unsure about how a leader can be tough and kind… at the same time?

You’re not alone.

Over the past several months, I have received numerous inquiries about the ‘either/or’ conundrum of leading with kindness.

Most of these well-meaning questions seek to frame leading with kindness as a choice.  A leader can’t implement difficult or unpopular decisions AND be kind at the same time.  You either can be tough or kind – NOT both simultaneously.

I respectfully disagree.

Kindness is HOW you treat people.  Kindness means treating people with honesty, fairness, respect and decency.

Leading with kindness does not mean being soft or wimpy.  Leading with kindness does not mean running away from thorny problems or avoiding confrontational situations.

Leading with kindness means being tough when necessary AND treating people with compassion and civility.

Many years ago, when I was seriously involved with the martial arts, I had a teacher (Sifu) who lived his life with this simple philosophy:

“Be as soft as the world will let you be and as hard as it makes you.”

An interesting paradox – wouldn’t you say?

Happy New Year!

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