As a church planter and amateur house flipper, I am intrigued by entrepreneurship and how others have started and grown their businesses. This tendency caused me several years ago to start listening to an intriguing NPR podcast called “How I Built This with Guy Raz,” a podcast interviewing those who have started some of the most well-known, cutting edge companies in the world and to recently read through a new book with the same title. In the book, one section really jumped out at me as being relevant to every founder and senior leader:
“Starting a business is hard. Growing a business is harder. Mostly because it requires so much buy-in-on mission, on values, on identity, on dozens of constantly changing thing-for every employee who walks through your doors every day as they come to work. Your natural instinct will be to focus the majority of your time on the things you are good at-the business stuff, the product stuff. As you should. That’s your job. But it is not your only job. You are also the mission maker , the values setter, the morale booster. You are responsible for creating an environment in which your employees can thrive, work can get done, customer’s needs can be met, and you can be proud of what your company accomplished at the end of the day.
There are a thousand management and leadership books out there that will give you advice on how to do all of this….but I think it is all much simpler than that. I was recently asked to offer one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs-one thing that I’d learned from all these amazing people I’d interviewed that I could share with them. What I said was…be kind; that kind leaders have kind companies; that kindness is a powerful tool; that kindness is free-it costs nothing-that the return on investment for kindness is bigger than that for any financial investment an entrepreneur can make.
Fundamentally, I don’t believe a company can stand the test of time if people will not stand for the company. And I find one of the most reliable ways the vast majority of entrepreneurs inspire people to do that is with kindness. I don’t know any other way to put it. So many of them are just kind! They treat their people well. They do the little things and the big things. They pay their success forward.”
Guy Raz points out a few takeaways of every “kind” leader whether that be in the business, community, or church context:
- Kind leaders don’t just make customers feel valued; they make their EMPLOYEES feel valued as well.
- Kind leaders enlist others to be a part of something BIGGER THAN THEMSELVES.
- Kind leaders respect the resource of TIME being managed by each employee.
- Kind leaders seek to diffuse the tension between FAMILY and vocational responsibilities.
- Kind leaders build an environment that empowers others to work cohesively but also INDEPENDENTLY.
- Kind leaders build an environment so conducive for their workforce that they CANNOT IMAGINE WORKING ANYWHERE ELSE.
Do you want to raise your profile of influence exponentially? There are likely other areas that need attention, but nothing will impact it more than a decision to be MORE KIND this year. Jude reminds us in his little letter confronting apostasy, “And of some have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 22). Senior leader, truly a little kindness can go along way to solidify and expand your influence. Don’t overlook it. Start with it. Stay with it because your organization, company, or church will only stand the test of time if your teammates can stand the company…something that is impossible without regular, liberal doses of kindness.
How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from The World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Guy Raz