AB Thinks  →  27th March 2024

3 ways to lead with kindness at work

We’ve all heard the phase, “Bringing your whole self to work”. Maybe we’ve even tried it. But what does that actually mean? And how can we cultivate a work environment that makes it possible?

Human-centric technologist Bob Watanabe recently joined Katie Macaulay on The Internal Comms Podcast to discuss just that.

Growing up in rural Maine, Bob and his family were the only Asian family of Japanese descent. “I dealt with some experiences of being the only one in the room, being the quiet one, being put aside,” he tells Katie. The experience instilled in him the value of giving a voice to the quietest person in the room and seeking perspectives that may challenge your own.

Alongside his work in HR technology and the implementation of ethical, equitable AI, Bob coaches leaders on how to be more inclusive. And whether you’re an internal comms professional or simply navigating life, Bob’s core principles ring true.

Here’s just three he shared on the podcast:

Make space for quieter voices
Have you recently been in a virtual meeting where somebody has unmuted themselves, only to hit ‘mute’ again when somebody else talks first? This happens more than you think. Members of your team will be less comfortable sharing their views on input, even though they have valuable insight to offer. Always be mindful of the room – virtual or physical. You never know whose great input is being overlooked.

Always be of service to others
We often talk about internal communicators being integral to creating workplaces that help people feel happier and more supported, and sometimes that’s exactly what we need to do. Bob suggests this attitude should permeate your life outside of work, too. He recalls when his ice hockey team joined a clean-up effort following some local flooding – “terrible work, but meaningful,” says Bob. So at the office or in your community, remember that sometimes the best thing you can do is roll up your sleeves and help out.

First impressions still count
As a nurse, Bob’s mum taught him that often the first person a patient sees is the most important, because it sets the tone for the rest of their experience. It’s the same at work. You can gauge how things are run by the kindness shown to you on arrival, Bob says. Sure, many businesses will put on a show, but genuine kindness when you arrive into a new role, or visit a business as a customer or potential vendor, can set the course for a long and meaningful connection.

Discover countless more valuable lessons in episode 96 of the Internal Podcast.