Source | Linkedin.com  |  BY:Bruce Kasanoff

I would literally like you to ask your CEO the question posed in my headline: does kindness equal weakness?

First, a definition… Merriam-Webster says that to be kind means to be “of a sympathetic or helpful nature”.

In other words, kindness means helping others.

But your organization—if it’s like most—has a huge problem. There is a significant gulf between what employees are told to do and how they perceive they are judged.

They are told to help customers (“we are customer-focused”) and to help each other (“teamwork matters”). In other words, to be kind to both groups.

But, too often, these are just words. Many employees are rewarded for doing better than their peers and for selling to customers, rather than serving them. I’ve seen countless organizations that pour resources into sales and marketing but literally hate to spend money on the “cost center” of customer support.

There is a widespread perception that being kind = being weak.

My posts about kindness have generated thousands of comments that reveal concern among professionals who want to be kind but who fear being perceived as soft, unfocused, or vulnerable.

In reality, there is nothing about helping others that denotes weakness; the reverse is often true. It takes tenacity, backbone, and initiative to help others in a meaningful way.

A few quick words from your CEO will not solve this problem. We need to address the fundamental disconnect between the platitudes that leaders toss out (customer focus, employee and customer engagement, etc.) and the ways that companies actually operate.

I’d like to suggest that the reason many organizations plateau is not being they lack innovation or cutting edge technology. Rather, it is because kindness (i.e. helping others) is a mindset that the culture of these firms either deride or minimize.

Readon…