Working Kindly

Is work just…work?

It can be, if you let it. Consider how much time we spend earning our living. Wouldn’t it be an awful waste of time if we didn’t enjoy what we do? But it’s more than what we do…it’s how we do it…that can make it enjoyable. We must acknowledge our colleagues make up a community, with shared values and interests. We must act with mindfulness of how our behavior may impact those people. This is the way of “working kindly.” But not everyone has that mindset…or knows how. Let’s explore how we may or may not “work kindly.”

The survivor is someone who knows his company is an ecosystem, with balances between groups that make it function. He is not concerned with the means or the ends of his job, but producing the results he is expected, in order to keep his employment. In many ways he is an opportunist, taking advantage of the political structure that runs the corporate machine for his gain. As a leader, he would be a ladder climber…someone who finds validation by hierarchy, and cares more about someone’s title rather than his or her merit. He uses his job as a vehicle, and risks using people the same way because he cares more about surviving than his fellow employee. He is an unkind leader.

The laggard is someone who resists change. He may be a highly effective worker, and views his job as a means to an end. It is a platform to enable his fulfillment, which is something not connected to his job. In many ways he is a rebel, as anything new would challenge his way of being, making him uncomfortable. And at all costs he wants to remain comfortable. Should he exhibit leadership, he may become a lone wolf…leading by example, running a tight-knit team that is reluctant to do anything different than what they have always done. He is a risk-adverse leader.

The mentor sees people as the most important asset of a company. She is entrenched in the company’s brand. She cares about what the company produces and how they produce it. She has a grace in the way she works, and invests in making the people she works with better at what they do. She would become a servant-leader…ensuring her employees have the spotlight to advertise their achievements and setting them up for success. She leads not by hierarchy but by creditability. She is an empowering leader.

The professional loves her job. She is a fanatic in the “how” and what she produces becomes a by-product of her happiness. Her personal style is defined by how she interacts with her colleagues and clients…and she treats everyone equally. She can play any role, on any level, because what defines her is her work ethics, not her job title. When she becomes a leader, she would be executive. Her personal style now becomes the kindness of her employees. She understands what it takes to run a business, and realizes the impacts of what they produce are as important as how they do it. She is a kind leader.

What do you imagine when you consider these types of work archetypes? What kind of leader are you?