The Importance of Kindness for Project Managers and Teams 

People being kind in workplace

Kindness can be a tricky topic in the business world. If you look online, you’ll see multiple articles written about this theme. One of the challenges of incorporating kindness into the workplace is that there are many different views on being kind. Everyone defines kindness based on personal experiences and belief systems. Kindness, for some, may include a bonus or gifts. In comparison, others may view kindness as helping or getting a note of thanks.

Because of these differences, kindness in one team may look different than kindness in another. You might see kindness in a team member with a gruff demeanor appear as taking time to check in on how each team member is getting along. Or you might see kindness from a quiet boss in the form of including thanks for the work accomplished in an email communication.  

Regardless of individual representations, two defining elements characterize an act of kindness. These elements are maintaining behaviors that strengthen relationships between individuals and teams, and recognizing that each person is of equal value regardless of the events and feelings involved in a situation. 

When you can approach another person that you work with, with the understanding that they are of equal value as a human being, you strengthen the relationship. Kindness established with these core elements becomes a cycle of behaviors that changes the fear response behavior of fight or flight into acts rooted in calmness and a cumulative sense of value. You can choose between acting from these core elements to strengthen a relationship or from a fear response that may fracture the interactions.

State of mind

Try to avoid thinking of individuals and situations as good or bad, or wrong or right. When you think of the other as bad or wrong, you take the role of good or right, thereby artificially increasing your value. The focus shifts away from kindness and toward actions that reduce the fear surrounding your need to protect your sense of worth. Fearful people react with a fight or flight response that might exhibit behaviors such as yelling and abrasiveness for the fight response. You might see behaviors such as passive-aggressiveness or avoidance of situations for a flight fear reaction. When used to communicate, these fear behaviors tend to fracture relationships, which splinters a team’s cohesion and makes it challenging to find kindness within the workplace. 

Your choice of kindness comes from self-awareness about your actions and how they impact others working on your project. With kindness, you become more intentional about finding solutions that strengthen not only one person but also yourself and the cumulative team. Your response is not just about the action but the intent behind the action.

This outlook of kindness shows a more profound sense of what it means to be kind. You can use these elements of kindness to support your actions and strengthen the relationships within your team. The added value includes reduced conflict, increased job satisfaction, and a greater sense of connectivity among team members. 

Team Connection

recent Work Human article suggested that kind leaders can look at the day from a place of wholeness. They also want this same level of connectivity from their team. Wholeness brings an environment of calm and forward momentum to work and projects. A similar view of kindness was discussed in a Harvard Business Review article that suggested practicing kindness helps life feel more meaningful and shapes how others perceive you, improving not only your reputation but also how you view yourself. 

Kindness is especially valuable in today’s current environment, where there are many dangerous events taking place that would warrant a fear response. You might find that you and your team have an elevated sense of fear that pulls you toward fear reactions and away from acts that support kindness. The challenge then becomes identifying how to maintain a sense of cumulative value among everything in the face of your need to protect yourself from possible harm.

Kindness becomes an incentive to work by creating a place of connectivity and safety within a challenging world. You and your team can retain the understanding of the intrinsic value of other people and address issues not based on fear but from a place of calm. This view of relationships within a project team reduces the need to use fear behaviors to make a point or talk to a team member. A project manager that understands his may say, “There is no good or bad or wrong or right for this person or situation.” Instead, they find a way to move forward into the workday, knowing that kindness is an essential element. With this mindset, acts of kindness you take have a deeper level of intent that turns a simple action into a meaningful event. 

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Written by Dr. Lynette Reed

Writer, researcher and advisor on human potential for personal and organizational development, Dr. Lynette Reed has mentored people from in businesses, not-for-profits, schools, allied health agencies, chambers of commerce, government and churches. She has taught courses on team building, leadership, ethics, world religion and world cultures. Her current literary contributions include an executive summary paperback titled, Fixing the Problem: Making Changes in How You Deal with Challenges, as well as book contributions, articles, guest radio appearances and a series of children’s books with Abingdon Press. She is also a co-founder and board member of the Institute for Soul-Centered Leadership at Seton Cove. Lynette holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spirituality, Sustainability, and Inter-Religious Dialogue and a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Contact her at expectations2reality@icloud.com.

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