The rewards of leading with kindness

minute read

Last Updated September 29, 2023


What would it take for kindness to go viral?

While we don’t know the answer to that question, we can venture a guess that an act of kindness would have the same effect as dropping a pebble in a lake. Just one action can gain traction and ripple out through the world—especially if you have others join you in acts of kindness.

In their recent podcast, Darren Root, Chief Strategist for Right Networks, and John Mitchell, Culture and Workforce Advisor for Right Networks, discuss how leading with kindness and generosity can lead to rewarding growth for your organization, your culture and your team.

How the lack of kindness begins

John wonders if people always been mean, but it’s just easier for people to be mean now. Darren agrees, pointing out that people used to simply mutter derogatory comments under their breath.

But now, especially with social media, there’s assured anonymity. People can hide behind their keyboards and say whatever they want without the repercussions that come with face-to-face meanness.

The trouble is, when unkind people become leaders, their actions are misconstrued as acceptable because, well, they’re the leader. So that must mean it’s okay to be unkind…right?

And that’s where firms start to see problems. Because being unkind creates a polarizing culture that no one wants to be a part of.

The expense of being unkind

When we talk about culture at Rootworks, we always mention that a healthy culture starts at the top—specifically with leadership. There’s a saying I’m going to paraphrase a bit: “Stuff” always rolls downhill.

What does that mean? If leaders are unkind to their direct reports, the unkindness tends to trickle down through direct reports, all the way to the bottom, gaining momentum until those at the bottom of the hill are drenched with it. The cost of that? Your firm’s culture.

An unhealthy culture is the cost of your firm’s actions…or lack of action to support your staff.

How do you know that your firm may have a not-so-healthy culture? Here are some signs that your firm’s culture is lacking:

  • You don’t have a clear business model.
  • Your staff struggles to survive throughout the day (and tax season is a nightmare).
  • There are no consistent check-ins with staff members.
  • There’s a lack of communication on all levels.
  • Your team works for the clock instead of the firm.

A big reason for an unhealthy culture is not prioritizing your firm’s two most valuable assets: your client list and your team. Not making strides to improve your culture and lead with kindness greatly costs your firm in the long run, whether it’s losing your best team members, your ideal clients or your firm.

Start leading with kindness

We still don’t have the answers for making kindness go viral, but we can tell you that it starts with you. It begins with extending kindness to someone who isn’t exactly like you. (Spoiler alert: There is no one like you.) It may not come easily, and you may have to make a conscious effort to be kind.

It means making an intentional effort to be kind to someone, whether or not you agree on the same principles, values or politics. It’s extending grace, no matter what. It’s also seeing each individual person from their perspective and learning what it is that they need. Everyone’s different; everyone has unique needs. So, you need to be able to step outside your own ego, and ask yourself, “What would it be like to be them?”

The answer to that question will help you create a culture where everyone enjoys what they’re doing; where they feel like a valuable part of the team; and where they’re a part of something important. It starts by leading with kindness.

If you’d like to learn more about creating an incredible firm culture, download our Healthy culture eBook.

You can also find a number of free on-demand webinars and blog articles on improving your firm culture at

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