Jennifer Twiner McCarron is an award winning producer, who is the CEO and Chair of Thunderbird Entertainment Group.
Leading with kindness cannot be underscored enough. When the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, announced her resignation, she was asked what she wanted people to remember about her leadership. Her response was simple, poignant: “As someone who always tried to be kind.”
As a business leader, I can relate. When I am finished with my career, I want to be remembered for how I made people feel and how I supported them. Leading with kindness influences every action I take as CEO and board chair at Thunderbird Entertainment Group. And guess what? It’s good for business, too.
Kindness can help you build a healthier organization.
Make no mistake, kindness is not a weakness. According to the VIA Institute on Character, kindness is identified as a strength within the virtue category of humanity. It requires integrity and encompasses strong principles such as honesty and compassion. As a leader, this can mean having challenging conversations and providing one-on-one direct feedback within a safe environment. Providing people with meaningful feedback and coaching them through their career growth comes part and parcel with demonstrating integrity. In fact, it can even be considered a leadership superpower. Avoiding difficult conversations isn’t being kind. You’re helping your team to build resilience and self-sufficiency, and that leads to a healthier organization for everyone.
Positive attracts positive.
The law of attraction is based on the belief that positive energy attracts positive energy. While some may believe this is pseudoscience, I like to consider the law of attraction in the context of people management. When we work with people who share our core values—including kindness—we produce the best results.
At Thunderbird, our people-first approach means that we treat people as individuals, not as numbers, because we are nothing without our talent. Since joining the company in 2011, I have seen our team grow to more than 1,300 people across four offices. Even with this growth, it is important to prioritize—and cherish—meeting with different team members, no matter how senior or junior they are. Peer-to-peer learning, mentorship, knowledge sharing—these are all examples of how we can create space and time to build and nurture a workplace culture based on shared values. This becomes all the more relevant in the context of labor shortages. Providing learning opportunities to support career growth is a part of the solution to the challenge of attracting the right individuals and retaining top talent.
Mistakes can lead to magic.
Throughout the course of a company’s path to greatness, there will also be times when things go awry. Recognize that these bumps are opportunities that allow you to course correct for future success. It is so important to demonstrate kindness by reassuring others that they should not be afraid to make mistakes, for these are the times that allow the best work to flourish. As Taylor Swift recently said, “You have to give yourself permission to fail.”
Empathy can help you to overcome obstacles.
Empathy works as a secret weapon when navigating business challenges. It allows you to cut through the surface and understand another person’s perspective. It also allows you to be an architect of change and to advance the issues that are important to your company.
We embrace this approach through the content we create by striving to impact positive change through entertainment. For example, our show Molly of Denali explores themes of kindness and empathy by encouraging young audiences to embrace diversity. Just as with this fictional character, when we remove judgment and emotion in our business interactions, we often realize how much more similar we are than different and how we’re stronger together.
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