Growing up with a speech impediment, I would always get teased for mispronouncing words. (You would have no idea how often words like turquoise and breakfast get brought up in the third grade.) Obviously, my young soul would be crushed with every mean comment, but instead of being mean back, I followed my mother’s advice and killed them with kindness. After doing this time and time again, the mean girls finally stopped, and I learned a valuable lesson – kindness will get you far. 


As I’ve grown in life and my career, I’ve noticed that I’ve carried my passion for kindness into my leadership roles whether I’m leading client work, training our new interns or speaking with high school girls I lead at church.


Below are five ways leading with kindness can change your day, team, and work:


  • Support Your Teammate – Being a team is more than clinking champagne glasses over lunch. Teamwork is looking out for one another in the slow weeks and the busy weeks. I am constantly asking myself, who needs my help this week? Is someone leaving for vacation next week? Did someone just return from vacation? Who mentioned they had back-to-back meetings on Tuesday? Reach out and ask how you can be helpful in their crazy town of a week. Most of the time, your teammate has prepared for their busy schedule, so the help isn’t needed, but just knowing someone is willing to help brings you closer. 



  • Send Warm Fuzzies – Sending warm fuzzies is my absolute favorite thing to do. I love reaching out to co-workers and letting them know I’m thinking about them beyond our project work together. Did someone’s dog have a vet appointment? Ask about it. Celebrate their kid’s wins with them. Or, do you simply hope they’re having a good morning? Send them a Slack message! These interactions cannot be fake or planned – it has to come from the heart.


  • Give Feedback with Suggestions – Giving feedback is a great way you can help your team, whether you’re in a leadership role or not. When I give constructive feedback, I like to follow it up with suggestions that might be helpful when my teammate tries to implement changes. Doing so allows you to limit your input to situations that are ongoing and not simple complaints in the heat of the moment. Also, it continues to show your team how much you care about them and their personal and professional growth.



  • Be a Good Listener – When a teammate comes to you with a question or feedback for you, give them your undivided attention. This is challenging, especially when it feels like you have a million things going on, but it’s essential to be in the moment with your team. To make this easier, I like to have my meetings in the afternoon. This way, I can get tasks done in the morning, so when my meetings roll around, I feel accomplished and can focus on the meeting at hand. 


  • Have a Servant’s Heart – No matter your role, it’s important to want to serve your team’s needs. If you’re going to the printers, ask if anyone else needs something printed. Are you getting a coffee on your way to work? See if anyone else would like one. Most of the time, you don’t need to go out of your way to serve; you just have to ask.


I might not be the smartest person around the table, and I still struggle with the word turquoise, but my hard work has earned my seat at the table, and my kindness is what makes people want to sit next to me! I know if you start throwing a little kindness into your day, you’ll start noticing more people pulling their chair up next to you. 


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AUTHOR: Devin Lee Duke
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