Our World is competitive and sometimes ruthless. It can be hard-edged with a tendency to cut people loose when they are no longer “necessary”. It can exploit and corrupt the very best and worst of us. With the growth of the Digital Age, an inherent coldness has enabled the discarding of people from behind a keyboard, often by people 1000’s of kilometres away. We are often disconnected from the outcomes of our decisions due to a digital shield that prevents any real emotional connection with the termination of an employee. On the flipside, exploitation of employers by less well-intentioned employees is also commonplace. A dog eats dog scenario that perpetuates a vicious circle of deception and exploitation
It certainly does not have to be this way.
And sometimes it isn’t.
I am a big believer that you reap what you sow. That your conduct and ethics drive the quality of your outcomes.
The Digital Age has brought about a boom of entrepreneurial innovation, opportunity and seen the rise of economies in so-called “First World” and “Developing” nations (personally I am not the biggest fan of those descriptions). It has created new roles for people where previously they did not exist. It has and will continue to see automation making roles obsolete.
Many individuals see the opportunities and have created virtual enterprises that change the way we do things, make services more accessible or take traditional industries digital. Some are ethical. Some are not.
So, in a cold, virtual world, is there still room for kindness in leadership? In a world where it is so easy to disconnect, does kindness really matter anymore?
Absolutely. I consider it even more important now than ever.
I have run VE People, a virtual staffing company, for over 6 years now. Our tagline is “Ethical Virtual Staffing Solutions”. As CEO, I place kindness to and between my staff as a high priority. The virtual world has incredibly high churn or attrition rates with virtual staff or clients finding it all too easy to disconnect from each other when things get tough. My goal at VE People has always been to identify and nurture sustainable relationships between virtual staff and their clients.
I believe in virtual staffing, distributed teams, and the benefits remote working offers. I truly believe it makes sense for many roles.
I believe that people working closer to their family, friends and the local community are a good thing.
But I believe we need to work hard to minimise the “easy to disconnect” syndrome and build real, sustainable and long term relationships for virtual roles. As a leader, I have found that it is kindness that is a key differentiator. Kindness has allowed my company to differentiate our service, identify the right clients and build mutual long term commitment. Kindness has allowed staff in our talent pool to stay longer. Resignations are rare and usually genuine. Engagements with clients are usually long term and mutually beneficial.
I manifest kindness in leadership by:
- Hiring kind people – believe me, we do consider this as we hire
- Focus on building the skills of our talent pool – personal and professional growth is great for well-being
- Working with clients that display similar values and trait
- Recognising outstanding performance
- Considering personal circumstances and offering flexibility (working hours, leave etc)
- Focusing on creating a strong, vibrant and close-knit internal team culture
- Pay fairly and on-time, all the time
Has this approach always worked? No. I have, as most who have worked in the virtual world, run into the occasional scam or imposter. But the most important thing is that I have never let it change our focus on kindness as a key trait of our business.