An open letter from Glenn Stearns, CEO of Kind Lending
When I made the decision to start Kind Lending, I knew I had to do it differently. I had to found the company on different principles. Build a team that thought differently. Foster a company culture that was different from any I’d ever seen before.
I wanted to build a legacy of Kindness.
After all my years of seeing cutthroat business people rise to the top (and come tumbling down a generation or two later) — or seeing sharp-nosed sharks do whatever it took to get ahead (then realize they’d cut themselves off from their teams) — I realized that this whole idea of the ruthlessly successful business person was just some story we’d made up to tell ourselves around the campfire.
The real success stories — the ones that lasted at least — came from the people who built teams that believed in a common goal. The people who forged relationships with their clients that were founded on mutual respect. The people who rose to the top with the generous support of their contemporaries. Co-workers and competition alike.
Everyone likes a little kindness.
And I have the proof to back it up.
1. Kindness Is Better For Business
Good business is done by good business people. People who care about what they do, and who come to work ready to bring their best.
A couple of years back, the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) did a study that uncovered a pretty surprising truth.
A respectful, kind workplace may just be the universal solution to poor productivity.
Teams who worked together in environments where kindness was king saw all sorts of crazy benefits. They were more energetic. More excited to develop new skills and put them to the test in the workplace.
Even better, APEX recorded a whopping 36% increase in job satisfaction, coupled with a 44% boost in commitment to the organization.
Read those numbers again.
Sometimes the statistics speak for themselves.
2. Kindness Is Better For The Workplace
Ever heard of the American Psychological Association (APA)?
They’re kind of a big deal. They’ve been striving to expand the bounds of psychological science and knowledge since 1892. Obviously well known amongst psychologists. Not so well known amongst mortgage lenders.
But they have so much to teach us! If only we’d open our ears and listen.
A new study in the journal Emotion by the APA saw researchers from the University of California embark on a 4 week long journey to test the hypothesis that kindness is good for business. The study incentivized a group of employees to commit small acts of kindness throughout the day, all directed towards their fellow co-workers. Stuff like bringing your cubicle-mate a hot cup of coffee or emailing them a cheery thank you note.
The researchers then closely followed the resulting behavior in the receivers of these acts of kindness. What did they do? Did they gobble up the good deeds and keep on working as normal? Did they pass the random acts of kindness off with a thank you and think nothing of it?
Of course not!
As you could guess, these people were profoundly grateful, and went about paying that kindness forward. Not by a little. By a lot. An astounding 278% increase in what’s called prosocial behavior. On top of that, both the givers and the receivers of the random acts of kindness saw impressive short and long term benefits too!
Worker competence and autonomy saw a boost in the short term, while receivers became measurably happier after 2 months. The givers won out in the end though, as their short month of kindness saw a significant drop in depression and a dramatic rise in satisfaction with both their lives and their jobs.
Not bad for 4 weeks of work, eh?
3. Kindness Is Better For Leaders
I’m not just talking about CEOs and founders here. I’m talking about every day, boots on the ground workers, at every level of the organization.
In study after study, the value of kindness has been shown to be the energizing force needed to kickstart the radical transformation from individual to leader.
How is this possible?
Well for one, acts of kindness, no matter how small, are known to hit the giver with a dose of dopamine — the chemical in our brains that makes us feel happy. That results in a happier workplace (as we’ve seen in point #1) and puts both the giver and receiver of said acts of kindness in charge of their job satisfaction (highlighted in point #2).
The resulting Kind leaders are able to act in the best interests of themselves, their teams and the organization. They find common ground, value strong relationships with their co-workers and clients, and are ultimately confident enough to treat others with respect.
Respect can go a long way.
A leader who respects their team is always encouraging them to be their best. Is always going out of their way to listen to their needs and respond accordingly. Is not afraid to give critical but fair feedback to those that need it.
It’s this exact philosophy that Kind Lending was founded upon, and we’ve seen it grow into a company culture that values its employees and gives them the space and confidence they need to do truly amazing work.
So the next time you get up to grab a coffee, think about spending an extra couple of bucks to buy one for a member of your team. I hope that by now you’ve learned that the benefits will reach much, much farther than the smile you’ll receive in return.