May 3, 2022

155 Lead with Kindness, the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change | Mahan Tavakoli Partnering Leadership Insight

155 Lead with Kindness, the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change | Mahan Tavakoli Partnering Leadership Insight

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli shares his perspectives and research about the need for kindness and how it can impact teams and organizations. Mahan also highlighted effective ways of showing kindness while initiating a ripple effect in our organizations and the community. 

Some highlights:

-Pre and post-pandemic effects on kindness

-How showing kindness can be contagious 

-Two specific ways of being kinder to those around us 

-Starting a kindness ripple 


- Christine Porath, Associate Professor of Management at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University; Why being respectful to your coworkers is good for business

- Jamil Zaki, Professor of Psychology; Author of THE WAR FOR KINDNESS

- Bob Kerry, American politician who served as the 35th Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987 and as a United States Senator from Nebraska from 1989 to 2001

Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website:



Mahan Tavakoli:

Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I am so excited to have you along with me on this journey of learning and growth, and really enjoy all of your messages. Keep those coming There's a microphone icon on You can leave voice messages for me there and a special shout-out to Arielle for being the first person to leave a voice message on LinkedIn.

As you know, the first Tuesday of every month, I share with you some of my own perspectives. And this month I wanted to talk about the need for kindness.

Post pandemic there was an uptick in kindness, whether it was with people buying groceries for neighbors or the empathy that many managers were showing in a work environment for their team members or team members were showing for each other. And that kindness was beautiful to see.

Unfortunately, over the past few months, I was noticing much more aggressive behavior. And I thought maybe it was just me until I saw a New York Times article about the fact that car crashes are surging and they have gone up to higher than pre-pandemic levels because people are driving more aggressively and are much more stressed out as they're driving.

And then the Atlantic had an article titled why people are acting so weird crime, unruly passenger incidents and other types of strange behavior have all sword recently. Why?

So I realized that this is not just me, the incidents of incivility are growing in our workplaces and in our community, and the unfortunate fact is that incivility is contagious.

Christine Porath has done lots of studies over the years on the effect of rudeness and incivility. She has shown and even witnessing it impact our behavior and performance.

Now on the flip side of it, Stanford psychologist, Jamil Zaki has found that kindness can also be contagious

So don't underestimate the power of kindness and we can each become a kindness ripple impacting our teams, our organizations, and the community at large.

There are lots of different ways to show kindness to others. I'm going to highlight two that you can start out with.

One of them is controlling our stories.

We all tell stories to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves have a big impact on our mood and our behavior toward those around us.

Think about it. When we are cut off in traffic, we are telling ourselves a story about the rudeness of the driver in front of us, and the anger and the resentment that can come from that experience can impact us at home. If we are on our way home or at work if we are on our way to work.

So the story we tell ourselves impacts our mood, our behavior, and how we interact with those around us.

It doesn't impact the person who was in the other car. Now at the same time, if all of a sudden, for whatever reason, we find out that the person who was in the other car was driving a child that had just been in an accident to the hospital. Then that totally changes the story we tell ourselves and the way we interact with those people around us, when we get home or when we get to work.

What changes in this instance is not the actions of the driver that, cut us off on the road. What changes in this instance is the story we tell ourselves.

Now I'm not telling you that everyone that cuts you off on a road or everyone that is rooted in a grocery store or in a work environment or anywhere else has a valid reason for it. What I'm saying is that the story we tell ourselves about the intention of that other individual doesn't necessarily impact that other individual. It only impacts us and those people that we interact with afterward, those loved ones at home we interact with, or those colleagues at work that we interact with. So why not tell ourselves more positive stories? When we tell ourselves more positive stories, it impacts us in a positive way.

Let's first and foremost, do it to be kind to ourselves. So we don't take the stress and the anxiety of a negative experience with us and then do it to be kind to those around us, because the way we interact with them will be very different when the story we tell ourselves is a positive story. So first control the stories you tell yourself.

The second thing is that we all need greater appreciation and nothing can show. Kindness as much as genuine appreciation. So think about those around you. And think specifically about how you can show genuine appreciation to someone at work, how you can express it.

It's quite possible after you express it, they will be wondering what's going on and what you want next. When you don't ask for anything afterward and they see that this genuine and heartfelt, then it will be very meaningful. And one of the best ways to have shared kindness with that other person. Impacting how they end up interacting with those around them, whether at work or at home.

Changing the stories we tell ourselves and showing appreciation can start a kindness ripple.

There are lots more ways of showing kindness to others. I love hearing from you. What some of your favorites are. By all means, these aren't the only two ways of doing it but the most important thing is to do it.

I love a quote by Bob Kerry, former Nebraska, governor and Senator. He served in Vietnam as a Navy seal officer and was awarded the medal of honor for his heroism in combat.

Bob Kerry said. Unexpected kindness is the most powerful least costly and most underrated agent of human change.

Become an agent of human change. Share genuine kindness with those around you.