How to Foster Kindness and Compassion in Your Organization: 13 Leaders Share their Advice

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How to Foster Kindness and Compassion in Your Organization: 13 Leaders Share their Advice

In the quest to build a more compassionate workplace, we've gathered insights from twelve leaders, including CEOs and Founders, on fostering a culture of kindness. From practicing empathy and open communication to setting a compassionate tone as a leader, these executives share their most valuable advice for creating a supportive organizational environment.

Practice Empathy and Open Communication

One piece of advice I would give leaders is to actively practice empathy and encourage open, heartfelt communication among team members. Leaders should strive to understand the diverse backgrounds and personal experiences that their team members bring to the table. This understanding can form the basis of a compassionate work environment. 

Additionally, it is crucial to create safe spaces for employees to share their thoughts and challenges without fear of judgment. These practices enhance team cohesion and drive innovation by ensuring all voices are heard and valued. Remember, a culture of kindness starts at the top; leaders' behavior will echo throughout the organization.


Lekeshia Hicks, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategist, Lekeshia Angelique Consulting


Prioritize a Holistic, Client-First Approach

One piece of advice I would give to leaders looking to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to prioritize a client-first, holistic approach. At Reliant Insurance Group and Helping Hand Financial, we ensure that our employees are educated thoroughly about our systems, such as the workers' compensation process. 

When employees understand how their benefits protect them, it fosters a sense of security and trust. For instance, we make it a point to educate them during the hiring process and maintain constant communication throughout any claims process. This proactive communication demonstrates that we care about their well-being, which in turn encourages a culture of mutual respect and empathy.

Leading by example is crucial. I often emphasize the importance of direct and open communication, both internally and externally. By regularly staying in touch with employees and showing genuine concern for their injuries and recoveries, I set a precedent for how supervisors should interact with their teams. This approach helps shorten claim durations and ensures employees feel supported and valued. For example, detailed job descriptions and collaborative efforts with medical providers for light-duty positions show we are actively involved in helping employees get back to work safely and efficiently.

Another effective strategy is integrating external activities that encourage empathy and community involvement. I make it a point to explore new cultures by traveling abroad and share these experiences with my team, promoting a broader understanding of global diversity. This kind of exposure to different perspectives helps build a more inclusive and compassionate work environment. Similarly, encouraging employees to engage in community service projects can strengthen internal bonds and develop a shared sense of purpose, translating to more compassionate interactions within the organization.


Ben Klesinger, Co-Founder and CEO, Reliant Insurance Group


Create a Valued, Collaborative Environment

One piece of advice I would give to leaders looking to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to create a collaborative environment where every team member feels valued and heard. At Grooveshark, we prioritized an open-communication culture, which included regular team meetings and brainstorming sessions. This not only increased collaboration but also helped build strong relationships among team members. In practice, this approach contributed significantly to our growth, helping us scale to 30 million monthly active users and $15M in ARR.

Another strategy that proved effective at Grooveshark was to implement a customer-centric approach. We built our operations to solve real customer problems and consistently provided a high-quality user experience. By focusing on the needs and feedback of our users, we were able to build a loyal and engaged community. This principle of understanding and addressing the core issues of our clients also applies internally; when employees see that the company genuinely cares about its users, they are more likely to adopt a compassionate attitude themselves.

Lastly, leading by example is crucial. During my time building the marketing team for Grooveshark, I made it a point to recognize and celebrate the achievements of my team members publicly. Whether through shoutouts in meetings or internal newsletters, this practice boosted morale and underlined the importance of mutual respect and appreciation. A specific example involved recognizing employees who went above and beyond during challenging projects, which not only enhanced the team's performance but also instilled a culture of kindness and gratitude.


Sam Tarantino, Founder, Harmonic Reach


Lead with Genuine Empathy and Understanding

One piece of advice I'd offer to leaders who want to build a culture of kindness and compassion is to lead by example! Show genuine empathy and understanding in your daily interactions, whether you're talking to employees, clients, or partners. Make it clear that kindness isn't just a company policy—it's a way of life. 

Encourage open communication, recognize and celebrate acts of compassion, and create a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and respected. When you embody these values, you'll inspire your team to do the same, creating a more positive and cohesive workplace.


Babu TK, CEO, Elmeasure


Involve Employees in Philanthropic Activities

One piece of advice I'd give to leaders looking to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to actively involve employees in philanthropic activities. At BlueSky Wealth Advisors, we emphasize engaging the next generation in philanthropy, instilling values of empathy and social responsibility. For example, we involve our team members in selecting charities and organizing volunteer activities. This not only strengthens our team bond but also instills a genuine sense of purpose and collective compassion.

From our experience, personal engagement in charitable activities can be transformative. We once organized a fundraising event for local disaster relief, allowing employees to suggest and vote on the organization we supported. The impact extended beyond financial contributions. Our team felt emotionally invested and proud of the collective effort, promoting a more compassionate internal culture.

Leaders should also model the behavior they wish to see. I've always been vocal about the importance of gratitude and kindness. I express my own gratitude openly for team achievements, creating a ripple effect. By being present in moments of success and challenges, and by openly sharing the principles of gratitude, we help our employees see these values in action, making them more likely to emulate them in their professional and personal lives.


David Blain, CFA, Chief Executive Officer, BlueSky Wealth Advisors


Prioritize Community Involvement and Ethics

One piece of advice I would offer to leaders aiming to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to actively prioritize community involvement. In my experience as the founder of Stance Commercial Real Estate, being deeply engaged with our Riverside community has allowed us to build stronger, more empathetic relationships not just with our clients but within our team as well. Our active participation in local boards, such as the Pick Group of Young Professionals and the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, facilitates interactions where team members can experience and contribute to positive, meaningful community projects.

Another key strategy is to ensure your internal operations reflect your external values. At Stance CRE, we've implemented a service-based business model rather than a sales-driven one. This shift means that even our internal reward systems prioritize collaboration and exceptional customer service over mere sales numbers. This approach has created an environment where team members feel valued and motivated to uphold high ethical standards. Recognizing and rewarding teamwork and community-centric initiatives have produced both happier employees and satisfied clients, proving that kindness and compassion benefit everyone involved.

Finally, lead by example in showing genuine care and concern for your team members. Periodic check-ins and casual get-togethers, such as lunch dates, help maintain a personal connection even beyond business needs. For instance, we make it a point to follow up with clients long after a deal has concluded to check on their progress, providing them with advice and support when needed. These practices not only build trustworthy relationships but also establish a culture where compassion and support are the norms, significantly enhancing overall morale and engagement within the company.


Joe Stance, Owner, Stance Commercial Real Estate


Adopt a Transparent, Inclusive Approach

One piece of advice I would give to leaders aiming to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to implement a transparent and inclusive approach in tackling issues, emphasizing both collective and individual strengths. In my journey with Riveraxe, I've stressed the importance of understanding and addressing our clients' unique challenges. This philosophy isn't limited to just external clients but extends internally too. For example, we schedule frequent 'idea-sharing' sessions where all team members can openly discuss their projects, frustrations, and triumphs. This inclusivity helps everyone feel valued and part of a larger mission.

Additionally, integrating emotional intelligence development into our training programs has proven transformative. Our IT consulting team members undergo workshops focusing on empathy, conflict resolution, and effective communication. These sessions are designed to highlight the human element in our tech-centric work environment. In practice, this has yielded noticeable results, such as a 20% increase in collaborative efficiencies and higher client satisfaction ratings. Developing these soft skills equips our employees to interact more compassionately with both colleagues and clients.

Lastly, I believe in leading by example and continuously acknowledging team efforts. At Riveraxe, I regularly take the opportunity to celebrate not just major client wins, but also the small, everyday acts of kindness within the team. For instance, during a particularly demanding project, public recognition of team members who went the extra mile significantly boosted morale. These comprehensive strategies form the bedrock of a culture where kindness and compassion are not just ideals but everyday practices, enhancing overall workplace harmony and productivity.


David Pumphrey, CEO, Riveraxe LLC


Focus on Mental Health and Well-Being

One piece of advice I would give to leaders looking to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to prioritize mental health and well-being from the top down. At Stay Here, we emphasize the importance of regular check-ins and open communication. 

One practical strategy I've implemented is creating a culture where managers schedule consistent, informal one-on-ones with their team members. These sessions aren't just about work performance but also serve as a space to discuss personal challenges and well-being, showing employees that their holistic health is a priority.

Another critical approach is role-modeling healthy behaviors. By openly discussing my own experiences and challenges with mental health, I create a safe space for others to do the same. For example, during team meetings, I often share insights from our ACT Suicide Prevention Training and encourage open dialogue about mental health topics. This transparency helps break down the stigma surrounding mental health and promotes compassion within the team.

Finally, integrating community involvement can profoundly impact workplace culture. At Stay Here, we actively engage in initiatives like mental health awareness campaigns and volunteer activities. This not only boosts team morale but also strengthens our sense of purpose and collective responsibility. Encouraging employees to participate in these activities fosters empathy and kindness, both within the organization and in our broader community. This holistic approach has shown tangible results, with increased employee satisfaction and stronger team cohesion.


Jacob Coyne, Founder, Stay Here


Reward Acts of Kindness to Motivate Staff

Leading with empathy is good for your bottom line and good for business. Here's what I'd say: get rid of top-down directives and focus on empathy.

When I started as a hotel manager at Beaumont, one of the most important things I learned was how to care for my guests honestly. Motivating my staff to go above and beyond for our guests, from reminding them of their favorite things to treating them to birthday surprises, had a huge impact on the guest experience. Happy staff delivered exceptional service, and ‌guests felt valued. The same is true at Fuel Logic.

Celebrating and rewarding employees who step up to the plate to help others creates a ripple effect of kindness. It creates a sense of community, which is the essence of a genuinely compassionate culture. It may sound easy, but believe me, it's powerful.


Eliot Vancil, CEO, Fuel Logic


Communicate Clearly, Celebrate Team Success

One piece of advice I would give to leaders looking to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to prioritize clear and consistent communication. At Bonsai Builders, communication is one of our core values, and it plays a pivotal role in ensuring that every team member feels informed and valued. For instance, we utilize regular check-ins and updates to keep everyone engaged with project progress and address any concerns promptly. This open line of communication fosters trust and respect among employees, which are key components of a compassionate work environment.

Another strategy is to create a sense of shared purpose and community involvement. We make it a point to involve our team in projects that not only highlight their skills but also contribute positively to client satisfaction. Our approach to project management emphasizes efficiency and quality, but we also focus on the human element, ensuring our employees know their work impacts the lives of our customers. This philosophy has led to highly dedicated teams, as evidenced by the numerous positive reviews and high client satisfaction rates we consistently achieve.

Lastly, recognize and celebrate the efforts and successes of your team. At Bonsai Builders, we make it a habit to acknowledge not just the completion of projects but the dedication and professionalism shown by our team members. For example, during a particularly challenging kitchen renovation project, frequent mentions of the hard work and respectful behavior of our employees boosted morale and reinforced a positive, supportive work culture. When employees feel appreciated and respected, they're more likely to embody and extend those values throughout their interactions, both internally and with clients.


Kristin Hintlian, Owner, Bonsai Builders


Empower and Recognize Frontline Workers

One piece of advice I would give to leaders looking to foster a culture of kindness and compassion within their organizations is to prioritize the empowerment and recognition of frontline workers. At Daisy, we place a high value on our frontline employees, who are crucial to our success. For instance, during our integration with partners like CyberManor, we made it a point to involve these employees in decision-making processes and spotlight their contributions. This not only improved morale but also ensured that they felt valued and respected.

In addition, focusing on creating strong support systems can significantly enhance kindness and compassion in your organization. When I first conceived Daisy, one of the primary goals was to provide unwavering support to integrators who were struggling with day-to-day business demands. By building a dedicated team to address these issues, we relieved stress and fostered a more nurturing work environment. In practice, this meant implementing robust, recurring service models that eased operational burdens and allowed employees to focus more on client relationships.

Lastly, fostering open and inclusive communication channels is essential. At Daisy, we hold regular "idea-sharing" sessions where employees from various departments can voice their thoughts and provide insights. This approach not only makes everyone feel heard but also cultivates a culture of empathy and mutual respect. For example, feedback from these sessions led to the development of more intuitive tech solutions, directly enhancing our team's ability to serve our customers compassionately and effectively.


Hagan Kappler, CEO, Daisy


Set a Compassionate Tone as Leader

Lead by example and practice empathy. As a team leader, you must know your actions set the tone for the company. Demonstrate kindness and compassion in your daily interactions to show your team members that you care about these values and that they are important. 

I take time to get to know all my employees personally, listen to their concerns, ask about their well-being, and celebrate their successes. I utilize every opportunity to show that I genuinely care about them, which has helped me create a compassionate work environment in our company. 

I encourage an open-door policy where my team members feel safe to express their concerns and thoughts without fear of retribution. My primary aim is to build trust and demonstrate that their voices matter.


Dan Ben-Nun, Founder and CEO, Adspace


Collaborate and Celebrate Team Efforts

At Lamprey Construction, fostering a culture of kindness and compassion starts with the power of collaboration. Working closely with clients to understand their unique needs allows our team to build strong, empathetic relationships right from the start. This approach not only enhances client satisfaction but also cultivates a compassionate work environment where every team member feels valued and respected.

I’ve found that leading by example is crucial. Prioritizing cleanliness on the job site, as we do at Lamprey Construction, reflects respect for both the workspace and the people working within it. By maintaining a clean, organized site, we demonstrate to our team the importance of pride in work and mutual respect, which naturally leads to a kinder, more supportive atmosphere.

Another effective strategy is recognizing and celebrating the efforts and successes of our team members. During a particularly challenging project, for example, I made it a point to frequently commend the hard work and dedication of our workers. This not only boosted morale but reinforced a culture where kindness and support are the norms. When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated, they are more likely to extend that same respect and kindness to their colleagues and clients.


Jason Lamprey, Owner, Square One Contracting

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More Ways to Spread Kindness

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