Kindness might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about successful leadership in Corporate America, but tough times apparently call for gentler measures. New research from IT and professional staffing and solutions provider Signature Consultants reveals that leading with kindness is the most effective leadership style to drive innovation and competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The firm’s groundbreaking Humankindex Survey of U.S. workers uncovers a clear connection between the practice of kind leadership and a company’s ability to create an environment which facilitates and supports innovation.
A key component of the research is an index created to measure and track companies’ adoption and practice of kindness, called the Humankindex, which uses a range from 1 to 100 to calculate the degree to which U.S. companies and their leaders are adopting kindness as a core value and leadership style, as well as the impact on fostering innovation in the workplace using two components:
- Kindness Quotient—the degree a company practices a culture and leadership of kindness and the extent to which it is felt by individual employees.
- Innovation Capability—how well the organization’s culture and leadership support and promote an innovative environment and the extent to which it is felt by individual employees.
In its first annual release, the Humankindex for all U.S. companies is 58 and comprised of a Kindness Quotient of 31.5 and Innovation Capability of 26.5. According to U.S. workers, companies are more likely to be considered innovative when elements of kindness exist in the culture and leadership, including:
- 78 percent more likely if kindness is considered a core value of the organization.
- 3.5X more likely if employees feel a shared sense of purpose between their job and the organization’s leadership and goals.
- 28 percent more likely if the company’s leadership style is to “lead with kindness.”
On the whole, when companies score higher on elements of the Kindness Quotient, they are 5X more likely to be considered innovative by employees.
“Kind leadership is a principle we have long-believed is not only the right cornerstone for our culture, but also the most effective way to drive success for our business and for those who contribute to it every day,” said Mahfuz Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer at Signature Consultants and DISYS, in a news release. “We believe the COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified and expedited the potency of kindness in the workplace. With our Humankindex initiative, we now have data-based research to support the premise that linking mission and margin, kindness and knowledge, and profit and principle, can deliver considerable and measurable benefits.”
The research also examined the degree to which company leaders have embraced kind leadership since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the findings, nearly one-third (30 percent) of workers say their company’s leadership has embraced kindness as a value less so since the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 76 percent of workers say their company’s leadership has embraced the value of “profits before people” the same or more since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In our reshaped world, kind leadership and values have proved to best inspire trust, inspiration, meaning, and innovation among today’s workers,” said Ahmed. “Yet, many have overlooked kindness as a powerful leadership quality, often mistaking it with niceness and a weakness. On the contrary, the aggressive, cutthroat ‘survival of the fittest’ approach has been replaced by a more humanistic approach to leadership and the ‘survival of the kindest.’ Our research has shown there is power in kindness, strength in kind leadership, and profitability in purpose, perhaps more so than any other time in recent history. As we work to put the pandemic behind us, kind leadership will play a significant role in helping employers win the battle for talent and strive toward innovation.”