The defining quality of your organization during a crisis is kindness.

Let’s face it — none of us has experienced a pandemic like this before.

And, hopefully, none of us will ever experience a pandemic on a scale like this in the future.

There is no “right” way to handle a global pandemic, and the impact on both national and global economies is still yet to be determined.

McKinsey & Company is projecting that it will be at least 18 months before the U.S. economy fully recovers, and each day that the pandemic increases, the farther out that recovery date gets.

But in looking at our top and bottom lines, working to keep our people safe, and needing to balance shareholder expectations, the next step or decision can feel like it is constantly in tension.

We think of it like this:

It’s not very often you see kindness in a business model, and that’s part of the problem.

Kindness doesn’t mean always being nice or shying away from tough calls or conversations.

Kindness doesn’t mean weakness or not having a backbone.

Kindness means the exact opposite.

It means acknowledging their humanity, and treating everyone with value and dignity.

It means that when delivering tough messages, those involved feel seen, heard, and respected.

It means owning the hard calls with poise, compassion, and empathy.

It means in each conversation, imagining that you are talking to your closest family members or friends and making each decision with heart and levelheadedness.

Because ultimately, each of our organizations are made up of humans who have chosen to run this race with us. They have chosen to share part of their life with us.

They have chosen us over every other organization out there. Let that sink in.

Each of our shareholders has chosen to invest in our cause.

Each of our board members has chosen to gift our companies with their perspectives and experiences.

When we can take a step back and think about the human-ness of each of the decisions we are making, we become a little more humble, a little more focused, and much kinder.

At the end of all of this, each person who works for you or hears about your organization will have a story they remember.

If they are laid off, they’ll remember the story of how they heard about it and how the message was communicated.

If they receive a life saving ventilator from your organization, they’ll remember the story of how that saved their life.

If they are considered essential workers, and have the safety measures in place for their protection, they’ll tell the story of how you had their back.

If your company chooses to take a financial hit so that they can keep their job, they’ll tell that story to their kids and grandkids.

We all have an incredibly tough road ahead of us, and the gravity of it all lays heavy on my heart. However, we all also have an incredible choice to make.

Today, we’d challenge you to lead with kindness.

About the Author:

Ashley believes that having the confidence to lead with authenticity, kindness, and courage is a key unlock in anyone's career. She doesn't take for granted working for a company that lives its values and is committed to healing the world one relationship at a time. Oh, and she happens to love leadership, coffee, running, and taking on new challenges.