Ten take-aways from this session:
- Being kind is not being weak
- Intentional kindness can be misinterpreted
- Kindness is giving of yourself
- Expect nothing in return
- Do the best you can for people
- Check your perception, assumptions and feelings
- Acknowledge kindness when you receive it
- The way we show kindness will evolve in our life
- Say thank you to people and explain the ‘why’ behind it
- Use different channels to show kindness
***The following transcript has been automatically generated and is presented here unchecked***
LinkedIn Live Kindness in leadership
kindness, people, leadership, jenny, leader, lisa, unkind, servant leadership, head, thought, nadine, acknowledge, person, talking, school, staff, words, tough, replenished, modeling
And we are live. And it’s Thursday the 28th of January. And good evening, everybody from the UK. I’m Nadine Powrie, Executive and leadership coach and workplace mediator.
Hi, I’m Jenny Leung. I’m a leadership development expert. I deliver and design leadership programs. I write articles, and I mentor people.
Hi, I’m Lisa grace, and I am the editorial director of Teach Middle East magazine. I am a former school leader. And I love all things education. I’m all about education.
And very, I think we are very pleased to see you again, Lisa. And I should say that we should have Nick here. But Nick isn’t here today, because he’s actually got suspected COVID. And he’s in bed and not well at all. So we are sending Nick our best wishes.
And Jana has been called to an emergency meeting. So he can’t be with us today. So we’re having to be agile and change everything at the last moment. But we okay, we can do that. And today, I thought that it would be it would be quite nice to do something on kindness. And when I was thinking about the theme, people were asking me why do you want to do something on kindness and I would say two things. A Today’s my birthday. And you can see at the back of my my office has become a florist shop. Right? So there’s been a lot of people have been very kind to me cluding, my children, and I’ve had a lot of flowers delivered. And and that’s, you know, my birthday made me think about kindness and how kind people are, particularly on your birthday, like today. But as a result, I’ve done quite a lot of work with a client recently. And he wanted to do a lot of work on being a kind leader. And I think that the trigger came from
the question that he that he asked, you know, is being kind being weak.
And we had quite a few coaching sessions on that. And I thought well, perhaps, you know, we could, we could share and have a conversation about what kind of leadership is is about. So while I could I could also say that this week, I posted a video on LinkedIn, about kindness and kind leadership. And there’s been a few comments that I want us to start off with.
We had Geraldine Hutchinson, and if she’s here, hello, Geraldine, who said to us and she asked, you know, is empathy and kindness, the same thing. And then we had a good friend of ours in Pernell, who has done a lot of work in the Middle East results. So hello, Ian.
And Ian talks about intentional kindness can be sometimes misinterpreted, particularly, you know, he’s an ex head. And he said that he was always careful about kindness and the fact that intentional kindness can be misinterpreted. So so we can start. Oh, hi, Tasneem. Yeah, we’ve got Tasnim saying happy birthday, Nadine. So thank you very much. That’s very kind of you. So we can have start with you know, what, what, what is kindness? Because maybe in something different for different people around the world?
Yeah. I thought about the topic. If Can I can I start? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Because I thought of the topic a lot since the dean told me that that’s what we’re going to be talking about. And I’m very, very passionate about the topic because I genuinely believe that kindness is underrated.
Kindness for me is giving of yourself.
And that could be whether you’re giving of your resources, or you’re giving of your time or your knowledge, it’s about sharing what you are blessed to have with others, and not expecting anything in return. And knowing that once you’ve given it, you have done exactly what you’ve set out to do that there’s no hidden agenda. There’s nothing behind it, that you’re really just sharing. And that’s what kindness is. And I really, I think it’s underrated. I think it’s such a poll to be kind. It’s harder, actually. And we might go into that later, but I think being kind is harder than being mean or stingy, or even selfish. Oh, okay.
But, I mean, I think your definition is really
And Lisa, and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t even attempt to top that, except maybe to say that it’s going beyond what’s expected.
So it’s going that extra mile. It’s doing that extra bit.
And I think that whether it’s easier or harder than being unkind for me, I think depends on the situation. And who I am, what my role is, who I’m with, I would hope.
I would hope that I, that kindness would be very much part of that leadership. But I looking back, I don’t think it always was.
I think that, given certain situations that you find yourself in as a leader, it’s it’s quite challenging to be kind, because you’re dealing with all sorts of different people and groups. And being kind isn’t necessarily possible for all the different people in groups. So for instance, as a head teacher, which we all are excellent teachers in the school, there were things that we had to do that wasn’t it was possibly in the best interest, but it wasn’t in people’s personal interests, if you know, if you understand what I mean, because sometimes hard decisions have to be made. You can be kind within making that hard decision. But ultimately, you you can’t always be seen to be kind as a leader.
I’ll just leave that out there.
I Yeah. I mean, what can I say? I think I’d quite like to pick up on what you’ve said Jenny about.
It’s, it’s doing more when you are kind and for me, it’s probably simply going above and beyond, okay. But it’s being spontaneous with that it’s not an effort, right? It’s something that comes from the heart. Because, you know, in, when I studied philosophy, we’ve got the, the head, right, and the heart. Look journalism, as we say, in France, when we when we study philosophy, and for me, the kindness is what comes from the heart where it’s not something that you’ve plan. And that’s interesting journey, when you say we’ve all been, you know, heads of school, we’ve had to handle many plans, right strategy plan, and you know, all kinds of plans. But being kind is about being spontaneous. It’s about it’s not about thinking ahead in advance. And it’s about doing what’s best what you think is best at this particular moment in time with your heart. Right. And I love Lisa, Lisa, when you said expecting nothing in return, that’s actually quite challenging, right? Because
for many people, many people expect things in return, because it’s given take, and there’s been quite a few books written on given take. But I think you’re absolutely right, it’s about making sure that you gave that you are thinking about people, you’re so full, you know, that’s what’s best for them. And,
and that is giving you a sense of
a sense of peace, really, that you know, you’ve done your best, it’s almost
I mean, I also think I always think about a Mother Teresa, you know, it’s almost about being a humanitarian person, well, you, you will have done your best.
And, and for me, that’s what matters. It’s to do your best in terms of being generous to do what you can for people. But But, okay, you might think that you are kind, and people don’t see that. Because I think that kindness at times can be about perception. And as you said, Jenny, you know, when your head you have to make very difficult decisions, or when you are a director or you know, a CEO, you have to make very difficult decisions. As a head teacher, as an ex head teacher, I had to make very difficult decisions. And I don’t think I was considered as being kind at the time, because I was making difficult decisions. So it’s also a matter of perception of assumptions of feelings as well.
And I do believe that you can, you can work on being kinder, and you can work on receiving that kindness to notice it.
Yeah, acknowledge it
in a coaching session, open people up about receiving the kindness, because we take so many things for granted that the moment that you know, kindness is like if you look in the dictionary depending on when which dictionary you look,
you’ve got different definitions. And it’s the same for human being and sometimes they don’t always see it and
When I talk to people about, you know, how do you receive it?
Some people, just, you know, don’t even make any fuss about it. And stop and pause and reflect on process.
And it will reach will realize re energize them. Yeah.
Do you think that if some people don’t know how to accept it, and perhaps don’t acknowledge it? Does that change your perception of how you’re being kind to them? Because I know Lisa was saying that it’s not about it’s not about it without a hidden agenda. And it’s not about people giving back but nevertheless, as a human being, if we’re kind, we it’s nice to have that acknowledged.
If you’re really kind to somebody, and then they don’t do anything, it’s kind of
perhaps they didn’t appreciate me or I don’t know, what do you think? It’s hard? Like I told you, it’s hard. But I think it comes back to motive. And the human side of you, are you going to expect somebody to reciprocate or even acknowledge the kindness that you have shown? But the fact is, it goes back to motive. If after you have shown that kindness, if the motive you had was really just to be kind and not expecting anything? Yes, your initial reaction is, I did all of that, and I got nothing. But when you sit to really reflect on a deeper level, you would say, You know what, even though that person didn’t reciprocate, or show gratitude, I would, I would have still done it, because my intention was to do it. Yeah, you know, so it’s not like one replaces the other, you can have both feelings, you can be genuinely kind. And initial reaction to someone’s maybe lack of gratitude or lack of acknowledgement, the human level of you will be like, oh, you know, I expected to hear Thank you, at least to thank you. But what not, what doesn’t change is, Were you willing to do it, even without the Sanku. And if that’s the case, then it doesn’t change your kindness. But you can be willing to do it without a thank you. And, and still, as you as you give the kindness, it’s kinda I mean, you know, it’s energy, isn’t it, I mean, it doesn’t take something out of you.
And still, it’s kind of emptying something in you. So if it doesn’t get replenished, somehow, then,
you know, there might be a chemistry, but it’s not gonna be replenished by the same person. Remember, kindness is cyclical. So I’m coming to Jenny. Jenny isn’t kind to me, but Nadine is, so I’m still getting replenished after me in a really bad light, and doesn’t it?
Okay, I’m gonna use I’m gonna use other
I guess the point I want to make is that as a as a human being,
to give to be, you know, kindness is to give to people, right? Whether it’s intentional, or not intentional, you gave something.
And there is a lot of research done on if you give too much, then you’re running anti, right? Because you have to have something back, right? You have to, I mean, you know, kindness or more, almost can be nourished by something, but by what I don’t know, it doesn’t mean necessarily by the person to whom you’ve been kind. But how do you replenish the kindness to be, you know, constantly continuing to be kind, right? Because it’s not because you’re 20, that you’re kind of 40. And you can be kind in very different ways, depending on the age, depending on the culture that you’ve come from, depending on how you’ve been brought up, you know, to be kind.
And depending on the experience that you’ve come across in life,
you know, I mean, he’s, I don’t know, I mean, I may, I may, I may say something that’s, that makes, you know, people might sound provocative, but, you know, I, you kinda when you’ve got more experience in life, and therefore you acknowledge, you know, you’re more grateful for what you have, are people kind of at the moment and more sensitive to it because of what’s happening in the world.
You know, I’ve had clients saying to me, I think I’m kinda at the moment, I’m noticing more what’s around me.
I’m better at noticing the smaller detail, and I’m better at sharing that. Whereas before, we were all running around, and now we’re all kind of, you know, in front of our screen.
It’s very different.
And I think it’s making some people realize that actually
and perhaps they kind of to what they thought
I was talking about replenishing and what replenishes it, it made me think about sort of is gratitude, the flipside of kindness. So, I mean, I would hope that, you know, in school or at home, when I bring up my kids that very much part of that was about the thank you culture. And thank you is two very small words, and that
people may say, thank you and not mean it. But nevertheless, just to have the thought that thank you needs to be said, and to have gratitude for somebody’s kindness, I think is very empowering. Because if somebody’s crying to you, and you don’t show gratitude, did you realize they were being kind? Or is it just part of your being that you don’t see the need to acknowledge it?
I don’t know. But I think that gratitude is is definitely the, either the flip side of it, or is very much a part of it. Yeah.
But did you see last week, I actually put a post on LinkedIn, where, you know, I wanted to thank a number of people. And you were you were in it.
And that post got over 2000 views and lots of comments
of people, you know, thanking me, and it made them sort of saying thank you to somebody else. Because in everyday life, sometimes we forget.
And I was surprised, I have to say, I mean, you know, I went back to LinkedIn, just to check a few things. And when I saw that it was getting a lot of hits. I thought, yeah, I mean, you know, What’s the link between
being kind. So the fact that I am acknowledging a number of people on LinkedIn, for what they’ve done for me in their life at a moment in time?
And people, you know, expressing? Oh, thank you for, you know, putting my name there. And so, I think you’re right, Jenny, that there is a relationship to some extent between kindness and gratitude. I mean, yeah, I think I think there is. But I also take the point, Lisa, that you can be kind, then you do it for yourself. You don’t do it to expect anything.
But isn’t it interesting that I put a post out on things. Thank you. And then
a lot of nice reminder. Yeah, attitude is great. And I think a lot of people in the pace that they’re going in life and how busy they are, they forget to say thank you. So maybe your post was that nice trigger, to get people to go, you know what, I actually have some people I want to thank as well. So you know, I think though, people are definitely during this time, becoming more grateful and acknowledging the simpler things a lot more. Because we’ve, we’ve had a chance to stop and really think and reflect.
It’s hard to pay attention when you’re moving very fast, right? So when you slow down and you’re able to look around, you can find what you’re really grateful for, it’s easier, because it’s right in front of you. And I think maybe your post resonated with people at this time, because people are being more grateful, and acknowledging a lot more the things that are working in their lives, the things that are that are going well versus what’s not right.
Yeah, I mean, Jenny, you mentioned something earlier on. And I was wondering, you know,
if it was not related to the fact that people sometimes take things for granted. Yeah, very much. So.
A year ago, we took a lot of things for granted. Yeah, very fundamental things. Yeah. And the things that are left have more value.
I mean, you think of all the people that you would see or acknowledge in a day, normally, you know, going into work going into an office, being on the bus or whatever. And now it’s very limited to people who you actually make contact with through some kind of technology. So I think it makes those relationships really important. Can I just bring Jamal in? Because he’s been asking a few questions about he’s been feeding back that yeah, he thinks it is a process of give and take. But what he’s asking is, is the quality of kindness acquired or born within a person,
which is it’s an interesting one. And I mean, you know, it’s the old psychological nature nurture, and psychologists have been arguing about it for a very long time. But I think modeling is so important in something like kindness. And I think modeling comes from
very beginning of a child’s life is that you’re modeling. Thank you saying thank you. I mean, it’s such an easy word that a small baby can
cottoned on to the concept of saying thank you, and they say thank you. So I think that how that how you bring a child up, and how you and what your expectations are, and most point what you’re modeling is really important. Whether people have a propensity for being kind, with no modeling, I don’t know, I don’t know whether that could make somebody rebel against somebody being unkind and being very kind. I don’t know about that. I don’t know what you know, I’m not I’m not a scientist, to establish if kindness is part of our DNA. So
I don’t know about the scientific response to that. But I think I agree with you, Jenny, that
schools, early years, the way we are being brought up, as well.
gives gifts certainly children.
Experiences, where they develop kindness by saying thank you, but also by sharing the learn learning to share.
You know, I think,
you know, when you are kind when you think back, you know, when we visited kindergarten.
And and you think and you look at the interaction between children, are they kind between each others? It’s, it’s when they are yes, saying thank you, but it’s also when they when they share, you know, and when they talk to each other, when they understand each other when they are listening to each other, when they are smiling to each other, you know, and it’s also then even their body language. I mean, you know, does kindness as a language, could it be nonverbal?
I don’t know, I’m no scientist as well. But I do definitely think you learn a lot of it. From you know, maybe the nurture at home and school and in your community. I think a lot of it is learned whether you could be born with some kindness trait. I don’t know. But I think you definitely learn it. Or you can learn it. And unfortunately, the flip side also works in that you can learn to be unkind, you know, yeah.
Unfortunately, Can I Can I just bring in the the, the the idea of kindness and leadership? Because I think, you know, we we’ve all been leaders, and I did, I’ve actually done a bit of research, which isn’t like me at all.
But I wanted to know where leadership competency frameworks stood in terms of kindness. Because from from the research that I’ve done, it seems very clear that
kindness seems to me to be a bit like the superfood. So kind leader on their own is, is just a kind leader. I’ve worked for somebody who was a kind leader, he was very kind, nice guy, but not a good leader. So I would put forward that it for kindness to be at its most effective.
It has to have all the other leadership competencies underneath it, it can’t exist in a vacuum. So a really effective kind leader, for me would be somebody who ticks all the boxes in terms of all the leadership competencies, but in addition to that, they are kind. And then I mean, we can go on and talk about what we mean by kindness. But I think for me, I think kindness is as you were saying Luiza is highly underrated and can make the difference between whether you keep staff, whether people want to work for you, whether you create a
a an enriching environment for people to work in.
So I just wanted to kind of push it into leadership a bit because I know that as we’ve all been leaders, I wonder, looking back on our leadership, where we were we kind leaders did we think we were kinda
benefiting hindsight ladies.
I don’t know. I mean, I’d say in the latter part, I learned something.
After reading, one of my favorite authors, Brene, brown, did lead and I learned this, I think maybe a couple of years ago, that the kindness that we show doesn’t mean that we have to be all nicey nicey and do what everybody wants us to do, or, you know, feel as if we must be this pliable leader that everybody can bend and twist in every direction. I think kindness means being very clear in what you expect, and sticking to that and making sure that you’re not waiting
wavering, and that your clarity helps people to succeed. So you can’t be changing the expectations or moving the goalposts, that’s not kind. So it really comes down to what do people think is a kind leader is a kind leader, somebody who, okay, you want something, it’s against the rules. So I’m going to bend the rule and you think I’m kind, and then somebody else comes and wants something else, etc. But a kind leader is somebody who makes the rules or makes the process or the strategies very, very clear. So that expectations are known. And you know exactly how to be successful. And they help you and guide you towards that success, and gives you the clarity. And I keep harping on about clarity, because in the book, she says, clear, is kind. And I and I genuinely believe that, if I’m clear with you, and you know exactly what is expected, then you don’t have to have this real angst. And there is no ambiguity. You know what it means it means to be successful, and I know what you need to do to be successful. And that means I’m being kind to you. So I think, yeah, leadership and kindness, we need to separate it from being a smiley, smiley. Oh, here is my hat and my coal and my everything, person, no, you don’t have to give it all away just to prove you’re kind. But you have to be fair, just and clear with the people you need. And I learned that in the latter part of my school leadership days, but
further is the more to it than that. Because say your message is very clear. And I’m working for you and I understand that message. But actually, that doesn’t fit with where I am or what I need to do or what’s happening at home, or there’s some reason that me that doesn’t work. And I suppose within that kindness and that clarity, there is also that that sort of emotional connection. And I don’t think kindness is a weakness, I think kindness is a strength. Yeah. But I think maybe there’s more about that there are more soft skills around it than just being clear. No, no, there is, but But you have to understand that is one of the tenants now, there is something happening at your home or something in there, there’s a level of empathy that comes in there. So obviously, kindness definitely has to do with empathy, it also has to do with, you know, a level of vulnerability and a level of understanding on a human level, what what people what people deal with. So it’s not just one thing, it can’t.
But it’s, when when we go back to what we said at the, at the beginning, you know, kindness is when you give to people, okay, and we go back to our hardships, and we think, okay, so what did I give to people as ahead? So we gave them, you know, a plan, a strategic plan, is that kindness? Well, not necessarily, okay. We gave them good communication is that kindness? Well, we could argue about that, because actually, you know, words are everything. So depending on which word you use, you’re going to tap into certain emotions. So if you’ve thought about people’s feelings prior to what you were, you are going to be saying, you know, then, perhaps you’re tapping into the right emotion. And then you are tapping into kindness. If we say, well, is kindness about giving honest feedback to people? Well, what what is on us feedback? And does that mean that there is not honest feedback is kindness about the moment when you’re when you’re one to one with your your staff, and you empower them, you allow them to grow? You know, this is the I mean, I, I used to love my one to one with my senior leadership team, because
and I hope that they feel that it felt like that they did, but it I enabled them to grow.
And it was not about me, it was it was about them. And sometimes somebody grows in a way that you think, Well, I’m not sure I like that. But, you know, I gave them the kindness to grow
in the way that they wanted to grow. So, for me, kindness is also about
being transparent, but would you say would you agree? I mean, you know, people might say, well, you need to be transparent to be a great leader.
But again, for me, I go back to when I say transparent sorry, when you say transparent, exactly what do you mean? In my communication? So, you know, when we talk about
being being clear, you know, being honest about everything, and, and when you are being honest about everything and you know, bringing bad news, right? Because we will have to bring that news at some point in your in our headship. At what point will people say, well, well, she brought bad news, she was kind, I do think that, that you can put that together. Because if you’ve done your job, well, you will have thought of
people’s emotion you will have thought of, okay, so, you know, what, what sadness am I going to bring here? How, how am I going to cope with, you know, the blow of that news on them. And it means that you communicate
differently, you use different words, because, you know, you’re tapping into
emotions that require a language or people to deal with those emotions, it doesn’t mean that you make them feel better, you know, but it means that you show an understanding and respect of how they are feeling. And at the time, at the time, people might not see that kindness, right, because they hear the message. Yeah. Okay. But looking back at it.
You know, looking back at it, people can have a different view on the kindness. And so actually, yeah, she was kind, right, looking back at people reflect. So kindness for me isn’t necessarily live present what you hear now, it’s sort of it can also be a judgment that you’re in retrospect, which, respectively. I mean, I often, you know, I can be honest about about what I’m going to share with you.
You know, some of my staff when I was head, saw that I was, I was called Right.
and looking back at it, they were probably right, in a way because I was taking my job very seriously, my first headship, you know, you want to do a very great job. And I had an amazing PA, who would say, She’s lovely, you know, she’s really nice and, and then it takes people to be in a one to one with you, where there’s a bit more intimacy in the conversation, you know, you can you can talk about things that you can’t talk about in public, and then people straightaway set. Oh, yeah, she’s kind.
So people perception can change with time, as you meet with them differently talking about different things. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I do I do. I do relate to that a lot. I mean, when I when I went to went into school leadership, I was young. And as a young girl, Look, girl, I think girl, but not so young girl in London, it was a tough borrow. It was, you know, I don’t want to call the borrower’s name. I have lots of colleagues on LinkedIn. But it was a tough bar. And I, I was up against a lot. I mean, I had older staff members
who just couldn’t fathom what I was doing there. Basically, what are you doing here, you know, and so, I was tough. I’m not gonna lie, like, I am much calmer now that I’m no longer in leadership. And, you know, I’m just sort of doing my thing. And being a mom, I’m a lot different. You know, I feel I even feel it within myself, that I am so much calmer. When I when I was in school leadership. I was tough. And it’s not that I was unkind, but I had to keep my guard up. Because I was up against a lot. You know, this is This is London. This is the early 2000s In the mid 2000s. This is, you know, not the time to be all smiley, smiley and laughing laughing with everybody. You had to be about the business. Now, people would misunderstand that. And of course, I would get the you know, she’s she’s just being eager. She’s strong law. She’s whatever. But in all of that, I still tried to be kind. Was it always perceived as kindness? No.
But I hope in that respect, people saw that I was trying.
I’m sure people in headships and people leading organizations can recognize that. And I think that certainly, I found being a woman in leadership. I found I had to prove myself and that will probably made me come
Cross is fairly assertive, and certainly tough, but I don’t see why kindness can’t be part of that as well. And I think that we all had tough headships for, for different reasons. And you have to be tough to enable that school to get to where it needed to be, and tough decisions have to be made. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be the kind of content underpin it. And I think that part of the kindness that I was perhaps strongest at as a head was to try and protect the staff, from all the machinations that all the rubbish that was coming in through my window, I used to, you know, that metaphor of me bashing it back out. And I tried to be ahead that protected them from much of that. And whether that was I doubt very much whether they perceive me as being kind, but like, Nadine, I suspect my PA would have done, and the caretaker because they were the people who saw me on a day to day and on a one to one.
But I do think you can still be tough, you can still have a tough job, and you can still be kind, and they’re not contradictions. Can you then, Jenny, I was gonna ask you, then, what are some of the things that a head teacher could do to show the kindness that they possess?
That’s a really good question. I think I’m I did it completely the wrong way, because I used to buy chocolate cake. Because I thought, you know, we this was a tough school, we’re having real problems with Ofsted. And
that morale was really low when I took school over. So I used to go and get and bring in chocolate cake, because I thought that showed that I valued people. But I think that to answer your question now, with the benefit of hindsight, I mean, I did invest a lot in their own CPD and in where they wanted to go and empower them, because I thought that was what was effective leadership. But what I hadn’t gathered and picking up Jamal’s comment about context is what I hadn’t realized was that not everybody wanted that sort of leadership. And actually, they were quite like you I was quite young going in. And a lot of the staff just wanted to be told what to do. And in fact, my head of English came to me one day just said, for God’s sake, jelly, just tell me what to do. So I was empowering them. I was supportive of them, but I wasn’t going to dive in and tell them what to do or interfere hugely in what they were doing.
And with hindsight, transparency, across my message, that that’s what I was doing, I think, would have been kinda, I think I made a lot of assumptions about how people were picking that message up.
Can I question? Yeah, can I can I come in actually really sad, because
one of the one of the thing that I did when I was ahead, which will always stay with me, which is probably one of the best thing I did
was that every week, I would write two or three staff.
And I would, I would write to them. And that wouldn’t be
a letter, that would be the same for everybody. You know, it would take me time to write first of all, people take it for granted that I’m French, and English. And I can, you know, juggle both language, it actually takes time to write something quite personal. And so every week, I would write a short letter to two or three staff to congratulate them on something, what I call extraordinary that they did you people might think, well, it’s not that extraordinary. But I think now that we’ve got COVID, perhaps people would think yeah, actually extraordinary what they were doing. So
and my PA would then you know, tight tight, and she would distribute it by hand to the staff.
And when I left my first tight shape, I made, I didn’t want the first of the leading thing, I made a film about my staff. And
I still have the film, actually. And for each of them, I wrote a little message on that film.
And this will stay with me forever, because I knew exactly what each member of staff teaching and teaching was, you know, the signature, the USP point of each of each of each member of staff. I knew that and I put that into a film with some great music called Play, by the way.
And I’ll never forget the way that you know, the way people felt about it, because that’s what I meant by people can see how kind you are, but later on, you will always
be you know,
So I think if I was ahead now, I’d still do that.
If I was ahead now and do other things like, there are some fantastic
apps that you can use to send some quick videos, so I would probably use the technology a lot more,
you know, to, to send quick video messages to people just to, you know, just to say, Thank you Well, hope you are, well, you know, something’s happening, but making it very specific, very short and very specific. Because that can change somebody’s days, you know, or week or month, or whatever, because we don’t, you know, we don’t know if people come to work, and teachers are doing an amazing job, and they come to wherever their human being, you know, they bring in luggage, like anybody else. And sometimes just one word can make a huge difference.
So I think now I would use a bit more of the technology, because at the time,
while I’m aware of I could use of being able to use the particular apps. But yeah, it made me think,
yeah, I don’t know why I’m sharing that
thing, isn’t it? It’s noticing and commenting. And I think that I did a similar thing, but I didn’t send notes, I just went around classrooms and notice things. And I made the
there was one in particular, perhaps two people who I found it much harder to be positive to and, you know, with, with the people who are sort of doing a great job and fitting in and contributing, and everything’s hunky dory, it’s, it’s quite easy to give them positive feedback. But I actually made I disciplined myself to make sure that the people who weren’t doing so well got equal, if not more feedback, because they were the ones who needed it. I remember one class going in, I thought, God, it’s an absolute shambles. What do I say?
You know, I did, I did find something to talk about a bit. But within that message, there had to also become, but without saying it like that, because you don’t want to say something nice, and then say, but it’d be nice for you to read it. So it’s, it’s going back to what you were saying at the very beginning, Lisa is about how you communicate it. And the how you say things is is so important. And I think that as a head, I didn’t realize how powerful my voice was within the school. And I think that, if I could play my time, again, I’d make much of the same decisions. But I try and be more self aware about how people viewed me. Yeah, just picking up marks made a couple of comments here about heads need to be in the classroom or, and show them that you want to get to know them and listen to them. I think listening is really important, I think heads in the classroom is is is quite a debatable
concept, because a lot of people feel that that’s not the heads roll. It’s not. Yes, there’s the monitoring aspects, but is that they’re just popping in when they’re in the middle of something. I think. I think that’s got I think that one in itself would take a whole discussion should have been in class. Yeah. And it’s still valid. Actually, Jenny, what you’re saying when we did the online evaluation in the Middle East? Yeah, isn’t it? Because when you’re online, and then you see, and you know that the head is in your room online? Yeah, it’s going in, in the various breakout rooms. I think that can put off a number of people, because actually, you can’t see them physically. But you know, that they were just blocked when we were a.so. They knew that they had inspectors looking at them, but they didn’t know anything else. And there was no there was no face, there was no comment. It was just this dot. Yeah, was that kind of
what the result of it was kind of the system was the system. And I think it was about the discussions that we had, that we didn’t necessarily have with the teachers, because the discussions with the senior leaders. So I would hope looking back that what I did was was was kind and certainly the dialogue seemed fine. But it’s interesting, Jenny, I want to pick up on what you said, you know, about going round and talking to staff and saying something kind.
Because actually, and maybe I’m wrong here and maybe it’s because I’m a linguist and I do think that it’s a skill. It’s a skill, to use the right word at the right time in the right circumstances, to touch the right emotion. And I think you can be trained to do better. I’ve always had an executive coach in my in my careers ahead.
And she completely transformed
the way I was communicating because you know, you don’t have
Which time with people? So you have to rethink, you know, you can’t go on Fiverr, you’ve got to be very specific.
And when you said that, you know, for some people, it’s quite difficult to see where the talent is. Because yeah, Timing can be quite difficult. And I remember my coach saying, okay, so what? So what’s good about that person? I could give a list about the things that I could see that were not right. Okay, so what is the one thing that you’re going to say, you know, and really making me really work on finding it, right? Because we’ve all got something to bring to the table. Right? And here I was, with my very high expectation in my first sight, cheap of you know, this is, this is what that stunning should look like having worked in an outstanding school, right? And it should be like this and like that. And of course, you know, no, schools are similar at all. I mean, people are very different anyway. So you, it’s very difficult to compare schools, kids and stuff are very different. Parents are very different governors are very different.
But it was quite interesting that she was really making me go to the nitty gritty of practicing, you know, have a look at it, try to do the 360 and find it, it’s your job to find he said to me, and it’s discipline, you know, it requires discipline to do that. So kindness, value is almost like a discipline, because for some people, you’re not, you know, you don’t do it automatically. Right. And when I when I work with my clients at the moment, we’re having to do some really hard work actually on them.
Finding the you know, the greatness in people when you yourself, right at the top, you’re exhausted, overworked, meeting after meetings, you haven’t got time to recover between meetings, you know,
but you have to keep giving.
and, and I guess having a coach or working with someone to remind you have that is
a gift? I would say, um,
I think it is, and I you know, I mean, my coach at the time was Linda rose, I interviewed her two weeks ago. And I think had not had she not traveled with me, I would have been very different in my relationship with people. And I would have been different to who I am now as a coach as well. Because she’s modeled good coaching. Yeah, she has she Yeah, it’s a very pertinent argument for heads having coaches, isn’t it because it’s quite a lonely job, because there’s not necessarily people within the staff who can give you that sort of feedback. But I think I think that discipline, and that looking for that good in that person or in the classroom, or whatever’s going on, I think is is stand up in such good stead, because chances are the person who, who they may be maybe the ones who are failing, maybe the ones who are feeling themselves, I’m not doing a good job, or, you know, she never comes in here and says positive things. It’s always a welcoming, you know. So I think, I think it’s the power of what you’re saying. And I think it’s the way that you say it. And I think that that’s where the emotional intelligence comes in, in terms of the competencies, because I think that two people can go into a room and say exactly the same thing. They can use the same words, but actually the way that they’re saying it can mean that there are two almost contradictory things. So I think it’s more than just the words, it’s the way as well.
I think it boils down as well to seeking to understand, I mean, everybody, I think has something good about them. But it’s that deliberate seeking to understand that person. And it’s hard sometimes to find what’s good. I mean, always, it’s not always evident.
I can remember, like my last school, I had teachers who I had to be didn’t, you know, the only thing I can think of is Good morning, how is your day going?
You know, because it’s not very, very evident. It’s not easy to find something good, but you really have to try it because everybody’s worth worth some time. You know, at least you have to give it your best shot at seeing what used to work for me as I used to have touch points. So I would listen, I think it’s just a knack I have for remembering things about people. I don’t know, it’s a gift. I don’t know what it is to call it. So I used to be very good. I still am very good at remembering names or little touch points, that people about what people say that I can then pick a conversation with them later on, that makes them know that I’m paying attention. You know, tell me like things that they would have even forgotten that they’ve said You know, I
tend to remember their pet’s name or their grandchild’s name, or their, you know, maybe one of their kids name or something they really enjoy. And that’s always and then you find an angle and it gives you an opening to somebody. And I think that’s really important as leaders, if you want to show that you care that you’re kind, then you have to kind of make that real effort in finding a touch point with each person that you lead. So that when you it can be the simplest thing. You know, I could, I could say,
Nadine, how is that beautiful black and white dress you bought at Zara? Do you still wear it? I really liked it. And they might go, Oh, my God, you remember, I bought that dress that Zara? Or you know, or I go Jenny, when was the last time you saw your trainer is still making you fit and healthy. And they got old to remember. But it’s, it’s just finding that touch point. And people will know that you took the time to care just that little bit extra.
I think it goes, what you’re saying summarize quite well, what Mark Ryan is saying, you know, show that you want to get to know them. And listen to them, you know, when people share something with you, and, and sometime making an effort to remember because we don’t always have the same memory, you know.
But yeah, listen to what people are saying. And
and don’t forget
and share that again. Wrong. Even something simple, like using somebody’s name. Yes. In conversation and using it correctly. Yes. You see, I call you Lisa. And I call you Lisa. But your laser on you. And Lisa grace. Lisa? Yes, I’ve called you loser see? Oh, I got it wrong, Jenny.
No, I didn’t even notice both of you.
Just as soon as you said that, I thought my goodness. And we’re saying it well. And that’s particularly so when you get foreign names. Because I think that if it’s if the name is of a of a language that you’re not used to, like working in the Middle East, there’s a lot of Arabic names. And I almost I try to always ask people how to pronounce their names, because otherwise you don’t use the names. And then I think I think that’s rude. So just asking people how you pronounce your names? Or am I saying it right, I think is a sort of reassurance that you care enough to say their names correctly. Yeah, this little thing? I think that’s kind
of you see, Jenny, you just said something about, you know, working in a different culture? I mean, you know, has kindness got a different definition, depending on the culture, where you are making the judgment that a person is kind? Hmm, good question. That’s a good one. Maybe elements is your best app, you’re based in the Middle East? So what’s your perception on that?
Do you know what I think it does? I think there is some cultural elements at play there. What I don’t know is exactly in what shape. I do think people perceive things differently based on where they’re from, and sort of their cultural backgrounds.
I find I find here that, you know, people do tend to say things in a nicer way. So not to hurt people’s feelings.
As it’s different from the UK, we tend to just say, well, we mean most of the time very people would consider it blunt.
And I had to learn that when I when I came out here that you can’t actually say things the way you would normally say then you find other ways of expressing the same idea. So yeah, I do think there’s a cultural element there. I can’t put my finger on exactly how it works. But I know there is it’s very nuanced and very subtle.
Yeah, I would probably agree on that.
You know, being in between culture, myself between France and England.
I’ve often reflected about kindness in between those two countries.
And I think
I think you’re right, that it’s little nuance, as you say, you know, when you do things
I mean, you have to mentally it’s also about the language you know, because yeah, words are not the same in different language even if you translate them they’re not quite the same. They’re not they’re not and I know that you know, the way you express an exam I speak several languages so I know that the way you’d say something in one language to another you will come off on kind in one, but Okay, another and yeah, it’s yeah.
You’re right. But it’s not something you can express very clearly because it’s it’s on a humanistic level. And so it has very, it has a lot of elements to it, right? And it also varies from human to human and person to person, I might find something a bit. And then somebody else says, oh, no, that’s fine. Yeah, it depends on your relationship as well, doesn’t it? Yeah.
You think I’m going back to the leadership in an organization again, and looking at the fact that that you got there are leadership programs all over the world? And there are very few of them that actually talk about or teach or refer to kindness as either a competency or a trait or anything else.
Should Do you think it should be an integral part of leadership programs?
It should be part of it. I mean, it should it shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s put it that way.
I don’t know how integral I don’t know. But I do think it’s worth learning about. I think it’s it’s one of those threads that I think needs to be inter woven
into the leadership programs that are out there. It should it shouldn’t. I don’t think you can just teach kindness by itself. Like I think that’s a bit. But it should be interwoven? Yeah. It’s quite interesting. I was looking at the
teachers, professional standards, head teachers professional standards, and talking about ethics and professional conduct. And they had those sort of intransigence, like selfishness and integrity, objectivity, accountability, and openness. But you could easily Oh, honesty and leadership.
But kindness is almost a thread running through all those. But it’s almost another bullet point. Because if you’re talking about selflessness, selflessness, and integrity, then you can just as easily talk about kindness in terms of ethics and professional conduct. I’d love to see it more acknowledged in the standards and in, in leadership development. But I think it will journey I think they are on they’re meant to be rewritten. So yeah, thanks. Yeah. And I think it’s always a question of words, you know, when you design it’s a bit the same, you know, when we designed a framework in the Middle East, it’s, it’s also it’s always about the words that you are choosing. And I guess, I guess, right, given what has happened in the world, we may see kindness as a competence, a lot more in the future than we’ve seen it in the past, because in the past, kindness was seen as being weak. Whereas now, unless is be seen as, oh, it’s helped me survive and thrive during the crisis. So we’ll, we’ll put it down. I mean, I think, you know, I think it should be there as a competence, because when I, and this is me talking now, as a business woman, you know, looking at return on investment return on on expectations, kindness, we know, research has been done, Warwick University has done research on kindness and on the impact, you know, makes people happier, it makes people more productive. So when it’s when there is a correlation between the input, okay, and the output, what you get out to be the impact, then it’s got to be a competence. And, you know, it’s whoever will design whatever paper because then PQ is one of them. But there are other leadership competencies model in the world, then, let’s hope that in the future when they come to redesign, then that they put that wording.
Because, for me, it’s a bit more important than some of the words that you and I, Jenny, because we were working on in PQ, we know that there are some words there that we don’t really need to have, that haven’t got as as much resonance in an organization. Correct. You know, if you had to equal organizations, and one had a reputation for being really kind, the organization and the culture neath was there, and the other didn’t, well, it’s a no brainer, isn’t it, you would go for the one that was crying, because ultimately, you want to feel good, you want to feel good about yourself. And in an unkind organization, it’s very difficult to do that with an unkind
boss or leader.
Sorry, I was just asking, is there some sort of correlation between being a kindly than being a servant leader?
I don’t know. I don’t know. But I think that being a servant leader has got the same sort of
traits as a kind of leader haven’t made because it’s not all about them. And it’s all about serving the needs of the organization and the individual. So I would imagine that there is more, but I
I haven’t read anything specifically that says there is. But I think I think in the years to come, there will be more people writing on servant leadership.
Absolutely, surely it’s I mean, I’ve, I’m working with some people behind the scene who I know are working on servant leadership, I’m writing papers are writing books are doing PhD about servant leadership. And I think, you know, with what we’re learning from COVID-19, and the crisis that we’re all in, I think this will fit in
into how we are looking at servant leadership. Right.
There’s something Yeah, it’s kind of the question is, what will leadership look like for the future? Exactly. Right. Yeah, very good question. I think it’s definitely going to go towards like what you’re saying they did, towards the servant leadership part of because obviously, what we’ve been doing in the past hasn’t all worked, right. So we have to look at it on a more human level. And servant leadership allows the leader to be more human than maybe some of the other forms of leadership. Yeah, but But it’s about being human. But ultimately, it’s still about being successful, you know, delivering, delivering the KPIs and everything. So as you said, Lisa, it’s not about saying yes to everybody, and being all happy, and we are family and all of that kind of thing.
You know, it’s about making sure that, that we are delivering the business strategy, no matter, you know, if it’s a school, or if it’s, if it’s a big organization. And I think that the future of leadership competencies is actually very exciting.
I think it will be reshaped by what’s happened. You know, since last March? Well, February, I think it will be reshaped by that. And, you know, we have a role to play in that. And we must continue to discuss that to shape actually, you know, the competencies. And because we’re in the middle of it, I mean, you know, a three we are doing work, in terms of leadership that is shaping the project that we’ve been working on, you know, across the world, so we have something to bring to the table.
So I believe very strongly that
we can contribute to the discussion and the conversation.
Yeah, I think it continues. I think the conversation definitely continue. And I think, yeah, it’s worth continuing. That’s great joking.
That’s great. Just looking at his name, made a comment, Jenny? Oh, yes. act of kindness, a universally understood
is Tasneem. who’s based in Dubai? Yes. Yeah, based in Dubai and Gmail, just thanks us for useful session. Have a good time. That’s good. So I think on this last note, the conversation needs to continue. So we will carry on talking about kind, kind leaders and kind leadership. And we’re going to try to shape something up, so that we bring something to the table. And, and it’s not about being famous and you know, bringing a new model. But it’s just about,
you know, making sense of what we experience and how we can shape
the future of leadership.
So on those note, Jenny, and Lisa, thank you very much for doing this. Thank you roundtable conversation. And I will see you next week. Jenny and Lisa, see you very soon, because I’m sure you’ll be wanting to come back and have another conversation. Let’s keep talking. Let’s keep talking.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.