You don’t have to be cruel to be kind

news May 19, 2021

Back in the late 70s, teens danced along with a pop favorite, “You have to be cruel to be kind.” 

The band got it wrong. 

As a 1 Corinthians 13 leader, leaders need to be kind but not cruel. 

I get where the song is coming from. Sometimes you do have to plainly lay out the honest truth. For example, at a recent team meeting where I was facilitating the results of an engagement survey, I had to share some hard truths. 

In fact, in my role as a consultant, I could share the facts in a way that a coworker, or internal manager, couldn’t. I knew some team members were distrustful and leery of what is being proposed as the next steps. I stepped in and addressed them before they could start bringing their negativity to the group. Specifically, I told them... 

“I believe the best teams are built when each person is working wholeheartedly at a higher and higher rate in their unique gifting, surrounded by others doing the same. This organization is a collection of individual collaborators, unified by a common WHY and working towards a clear WHAT. And if you are not going to bring your best ‘YOU, Inc.’ to this place, begin planning your exit now. Your leader is not responsible for your career. You are.”   

By candidly, but kindly, pointing out they were each responsible for their own career, I gave them the responsibility to accept the truth. They could either stay at the organization and bring their best selves to the team or they could take the initiative to leave on their own terms. 

You can hear the whole story on the latest podcast episode here.

No need to be cruel to be kind when you build a For Love of Team environment. You can lead with kindness and love. 

For Love of Team


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