A robust culture and foundational trust cannot exist without benevolence.
When preparing for a 1:1 meeting with a Team member, I felt my stress levels heighten as I searched for ways to preserve my sense of self and uphold my integrity. I put a smile on my face even though I knew this person would dig for gossip and potentially twist anything I said into a “sky-is-falling” dramatic sentiment. Often, this person had a way of exposing my vulnerabilities. I replayed our conversations over and over to make sure that I didn’t say or do anything that this person could use against me in the future. I spent way too much mental capacity planning and debriefing after meeting with this individual.
This relationship was the opposite of benevolence. I was not confident that this individual had my best interest at heart.
Benevolence means we are not using mental and emotional energy worrying about the other individuals in our Team. It means that we will practice mutual kindness and have well-meaning intentions with our words and actions. A benevolent workplace equates to a trusting culture. Simply put, a workplace will turn toxic without benevolence.
If you lay a strong foundation of benevolence and your Team buys in, imagine how much less time people have to worry about looking behind their backs. Now your team can look forward and move your company to greater heights.
As a leader, how are you cultivating benevolence?
Actions steps to boost benevolence in your workplace:
- Ensure a mutual attitude of well-meaning intentions: If you have to explicitly tell someone on your Team that your sentiments come from a place of respect and kindness, then do it. If something doesn’t come across as well-meaning, you can ask, “please help me to understand what you mean by that.” Don’t build up negative assumptions about the interaction. Stewing in anger and resentment does not build strong teams
- Eliminate exposure of others’ weaknesses: If someone on your Team is struggling, have a 1:1 with them—don’t call them out in front of their peers. If you see this happen, stop it immediately. What you permit, you promote. Don’t be a boss who lets toxic behavior occur under your nose. Only bullies exploit the weak. Build your Team up instead of tearing them down.
- Talk to your Team about benevolence: Explain to your Team that you would rather they spend their time on productivity, efficiency, and finding joy in their job than worrying about if they said or did the wrong thing during yesterday’s meeting. Ask them to be forward-focused and put their mental capacities toward constructive and innovative ideas.
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