Lead with Kindness

by  Mike Henry  |  Leadership Development

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~Aesop

Do you believe that our existence ends when we die and that only tangible things are real?  This is important because ultimately this quote either confirms your beliefs or takes you to a great contradiction.  Either you believe there is something more than what we can see and feel and touch or this quote must be false.

There is much more to our existence than just what we can touch or see.  We contribute to the overall welfare of humanity when we perform acts of kindness and we overdraw that welfare when we’re selfish.  There are intangibles that make up the quality of life that you experience.  One of those is the benefit we each derive from living in a community where people are generous and quick to share. Where people are kind and generous, the community is warm and giving.  When people are self-centered and greedy, the community is cold and lonely.  Imagine what your town would be like if everyone only looked out for themselves.

These types of “soft” measures do make a difference.  Look around your community.  Are there neighborhoods where you would prefer not to live?  How about companies you would prefer not to work for. Certain companies are selected year after year as the best places to work. The same is true with communities.

What you contribute outlasts you because it lives “in” someone else’s recollection.  However they remember the event and what they derived from it outlasts your physical act.  You “pay it forward” when you invest in another, and then, so do they.  There must be something more than what we can see or do or experience.  Why else would this phenomenon exist or matter?

Choose today to make your place better.  Contribute an act of kindness.  You’ll find that it wasn’t wasted.

Photo © 2011 RaisingFigureSkaters.com

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About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Angie Chaplin  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply


If you could see me now, I am standing up and applauding in front of my laptop, with a few WOO HOOs thrown in. =) I could not agree with you more. One of my favorite things to do is a random act of kindness, performed anonymously. It’s even more fun to conduct the random act of kindness anonymously, then hide to see the smile on the recipient’s face. Sometimes, that’s not always possible, yet even making a “drive-thru difference” by paying for the order of the person in the car behind you in line at a fast-food restaurant, coffee shop, etc.

The “warm ‘n’ fuzzy” feeling I get when I perform even the smallest random act of kindness makes it feel somewhat selfish — when a leader acts with kindness toward another person, that kindness comes back. As my favorite leadership experts Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner say, you cannot Encourage the Heart of someone else without encouraging your own at the same time.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. This post seems especially timely and relevant as we celebrate Easter weekend and remember the ultimate “act of kindness” we were given.

Lead on!

Mike Henry  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Angie, thanks for the encouragement and comments. I seem to be continually reminded that it’s not what we keep that counts, it’s what we give away that matters most. Thanks for the comment and for being part of the community. Mike…

Richard Burkey  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Mother Teresa epitomized the power of kindness in leadership. Her influence and impact is still being felt in India and around the world. Leaders who lead with kindness leave a legacy worth following. Thanks Mike for the reminder.

John Ikeda  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Great post Mike! It’s good to be reminded occasionally to step out and do something for someone else.

Thomas Waterhouse  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Kindness is a state of the heart having to do with disposition or temperament. Goodness is a state of the heart having to do with character. Kindness does “nice” things. Goodness does “right” things, even when they are downright hard. Jennifer (Jennifer V. Miller) refers to this in her article titled “Leadership Void”. True leadership must include both kindness and goodness. Kindness supports life. Standing for the “right thing” requires life, and ultimately, it creates life. Mike, you’re a leader who both “supports” and “stands” for life in leadership, and all that it entails. Thank you!

Mike Henry  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Thomas, thanks for the additional info. That distinction between goodness and kindness creates additional depth in the conversation. Thanks very much.

Jennifer V. Miller  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Mike, your generous heart shows through in this post. Thanks for standing up for kindness.

Thomas- what a helpful distinction between kindness and goodness.

Excellent food for thought from all who have commented on this post!

Mike Henry  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Thanks very much Jennifer. Mike…

Sandy Harper  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

The word kindness is one of my favorites in our language. Every day, there is an opportunity to be kind.

You never know… the 30 seconds it takes you to send a sympathetic comment to someone who just suffered a loss, may impact them for a lifetime. A simple act of kindness, like looking behind you to see if the door needs to be held open or giving $1.00 to the man on the street corner, starts the flow of energy. That one act may prompt them to perform an act of kindness to the next person they meet or to be kind to themselves.

What a beautiful world it would be if we would all be more aware of and kind to everyone we encountered.

Thanks for the great post, Mike. I am grateful to be connected to such inspiring leaders as you and your team.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Easter!

With Gratitude ~

Sandy Harper :-)

Mike Henry  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Thanks Sandy. I just hope we increase the kindness (and goodness) bank. Mike…

Michelle Bish  |  22 Apr 2011  |  Reply

What an inspiring and encourage read. In our “me” centered world sometimes we need a gentle reminder that it’s not all about us. It’s refreshing to hear someone talk about ways we can give ourselves away and reap the rewards far beyond anything seen with our eyes.

Random acts of kindness are contagious.

Mike Henry  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Thanks Michelle, I appreciate the feedback. Glad to be connected to other folks who are giving themselves away. Mike…

Vincent Hunt  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Incredible post Mike!!

It’s refreshing to read post from Thought Leaders who are leading in the shift from an industrial-centric leadership style to the post-industrial buildership style that is emerging in today business culture. Of course I am a raving fan of this post because or company believes in kindness so much, that we have built an entire business model around it… SO this post is not only encouraging and insightful to me, BUT it is indeed another layer of confirmation that Kindness is in-fact a critical component in 21st century business “buildership”.

Thank you for your art.


Mike Henry  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

I like the word buildership. There are a number of other posts on this site about that since we’re all part of what we call the character-based leadership revolution. We want to mobilize organizations and individuals to self-develop into those builders you are talking about. Thanks again. Mike…

Joe Rotger  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Liked that a lot!

Connie McKnight  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Mike, You started out with this wonderful quote: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~Aesop Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone felt that way? When you perform an act of kindness to someone whose not expecting it, what you get in return is the greatest gift you can receive. It can be as small as smiling at someone in a supermarket. I always love the response.

I saw an interview with Carol Burnett the other night. She said she wanted to go to university and they were so poor she didn’t think she’s be able to go and the cost of tuition was only $49. Someone anonymously put a $50 bill in an envelope and sent it to her in the mail. It changed her life. She said she’s been paying it forward ever since.

I loved your post; thank you for reminding us it can start with us.


Mike Henry  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Thanks for the story Connie. We never know what our kindness really does. it can start with us. Thanks. Mike…

Antwon Davis  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Thanks for the remarkable words Mike!

It’s this kind of positive energy that the world longs for and needs. We’ve experienced the greatest act of Kindness through Christ, who gave up His life in exchange for ours. Because of Him, we have in our hands the opportunity to extend kindness to one another. Such a timely word of encouragement as we celebrate the greatest act of Kindness this weekend.

Be Kind.

Mike Henry  |  23 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Antwon, thanks for the comment. I’m convinced that only what we give counts. It’s like we’re a warehouse but we don’t count what we have in the building. We only count what we ship. Here’s to shipping a lot of kindness. Mike…

John Wenger  |  26 Apr 2011  |  Reply

Mike, I like how you put the word ‘soft’ in inverted commas. Many (of the old school) would say that kindness, love and caring for others is the soft stuff that we don’t need to bother with at work, but I reckon it’s the hard stuff. It’s hard to remember daily that it is others who matter if our workplaces are to be more humane. It’s hard to develop this capability in folks who haven’t had the benefit of good empathic caring in their early years. It’s hard to put aside our egos when they get damaged by things others say and do and to see their real (good) intent behind such actions. And this hard stuff is the stuff that will really make a quantum difference to how people feel about their working lives.

Great post!

Mike Henry  |  26 Apr 2011  |  Reply

John, I appreciate your angle. It is harder, but it is also more rewarding and more important. In fact, sometimes I think it’s only harder because we focus on ourselves so much. Thanks for the kind words. Mike…

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