As a leader, how often do you catch yourself thinking something like: “The weekly productivity report is late again! No matter how many times I say I NEED that report first thing Monday morning, they never get it to me on time. They never get anything right. I just don’t know what’s wrong with them.” Maybe you have those types of thoughts so often that you don’t even notice them anymore! They just play like unconscious broken records in your head. If that’s the case, you aren’t alone. A lot of the self-talk people have is both negative…and unconscious. And that’s a problem for leaders because your thoughts affect your words and your actions.
As a leader, assuming positive intent, thinking kindly about the actions of others, is unbelievably important. First, because your thoughts influence your words and actions, thinking kindly helps ensure that you speak and act kindly to the people that you are leading! Second, it models the practice of assuming positive intent to others. Because, for the most part, people do have positive intentions. When they don’t do what you expect, there’s usually a good reason why. And something that as a leader, you can kindly help them with.
What do you think?
Do you assume positive intent?
What do you do when you have negative thoughts?
Please share your ideas in the comments!
This week’s Kind Leader book research update:
Assuming positive intent and thinking kindly about others is related to the Emotional Intelligence component of empathy. As Daniel Goleman explains “Empathy means thoughtfully considering employees feelings — along with other factors — in the process of making intelligent decisions” (p.16). Assuming positive intent — that others want and intend to do their best — is a great way to begin making decisions that consider others kindly, and it’s also a great way to begin practicing empathy. For, as we discussed in The Kind Leader Newsletter #3, and Daniel Goleman corroborates, kindness, empathy and the other components of Emotional Intelligence (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation and social skill) can be improved with practice.
So, next time you hear that voice in your head saying, “Oh no, that report is late again! Why can’t they EVER get it right?” Stop, and say to yourself instead, “I’m going to assume positive intent. People want to do their best.” Then go and see what happened, and how you can kindly help!
Goleman, D. (1996). What Makes a Leader. In On Leadership (pp. 3 -21). Harvard Business Review Press. 2011.
Thank you all for reading the Kind Leader Newsletter! Please send me your thoughts and experiences practicing kind leadership so I can use them in The Kind Leader book and pass them on to others in The Newsletter!