Kind is not weak, kind is strong
I joined Vendia in December 2021, and one thing that caught my attention was the “Kind Humans Only” policy. “Kind” in the business world can be perceived as a weakness. But, what I observed at Vendia is that kind is not weak, kind is strong.
I have spent nine months at Vendia and have interacted with most people (some virtually, some in person), and I see some patterns that make me believe Vendia is evolving nicely as a company with “kind human” as a genetic code. That code holds us together during ebbs and flows as we grow our business.
At Vendia, kind is both considerate about other feelings, and kind is our strength that fuels our confidence. You experience it in a matter of hours when you spend time with a Vendian, even at first contact.
For example, when I was interviewing for Vendia, I got stuck with an issue while playing with the product. The Vendian who supported me was so kind and patient while we worked through the issue. He patiently explained how things worked and where I might have missed a few things. Even for things that I missed, he made a comment indicating that the product experience could be improved. I felt seen and respected and safe, even during my interview.
But, there are situations and scenarios where just being nice and considerate about other feelings will not help either party. In such situations, Vendians make tough calls. We think beyond just one individual, taking actions that demonstrate strength for the benefit of the bigger picture and bigger group. Of course, we don’t force decisions. We empower people to make choices and commit to it. Here’s an example.
At a conference this year, I was leading the Vendia team. It was a four-day event, and we were expecting good footfall. A day before the conference, a colleague who’d planned to partner with me at our booth caught COVID. She notified me on Friday evening, right up at the front end of our travel time. Because the change happened last minute, I wondered if I should even ask for help and “bother people,” spoiling their weekend plans. But, based on my previous experience leading booths at conferences, I knew that there are bouts of traffic where I’d definitely need another person to help. So, I made the judgment call and reached out to my manager for help. She first asked me to reconsider whether we really needed two people dedicated to the booth since she was planning to help between her commitments at the event. I insisted that we would not be successful without two dedicated Vendians to meet and connect with our potential customers. She believed in me, and we worked out a plan to fly another person. It was so encouraging to see that our VP of Marketing recognized the need and volunteered to help.
I don’t mean to imply that we always score 10/10 on both aspects of kindness, but we strongly believe kindness is worth practicing. It is strategic for Vendia to practice kindness at the individual level and at every touchpoint of Vendia business and technology. After all, Vendia is about enabling trust among partners to enable business innovation. Trust is all-encompassing. Physical. Emotional. Digital. Financial. Ethical. And a simple act of kindness inspires trust.
- Trust can bring people together to have a conversation with a positive mindset to see things beyond themselves (one individual, one company), and interesting things happen when people talk in an environment of trust.
- People tend to trust you when they believe they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgment and competence (logic), and when they feel that you care about them (empathy). When trust is lost, it can almost always be traced back to a breakdown in one of these three drivers.
Kind humans at Vendia practice active listening. Active listening demonstrates that you value others. As David Augsburger has said, “Being heard is so close to being loved, that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”
I am so fortunate to have Vendia founders who listen. When leaders listen to team members, that act gives the leader greater credibility and greater influence. It may sound counterintuitive to say that persuasion involves speaking only. But, listening is more persuasive than speaking.
Listening has other benefits too. For instance, if you listen long enough, a person reaching out will generally come up with a solution. A good one is that they just need time or space to trust and voice aloud.
I am a strong believer in active listening. I practice it consistently, and it’s even easier and more rewarding when others practice it, too. It feels like zen. And most of my interactions with other Vendians most of the time feel like a zen. However, when I’ve encountered colleagues who prefer to persuade rather than listen or explore counter arguments, we’ve taken time to figure out how to be kind humans to one another, learning about one another’s communication styles and needs. In such situations, we learn who show leadership, even self-leadership, and learn to listen more.
In a startup, processes are lean and constantly evolving. But, we rely on a shared moral compass and principles to inform our day-to-day decisions. At Vendia, kindness flows top down from leadership. Sometimes there are kind words. Just as often there is kindness in action.
But, leadership isn’t just practiced here because someone has a leadership title. In self-leadership, we empower team members to be independent, audacious, reasonable, and fact-based so we can move fast and execute with confidence. But, we help each other watch one’s blind spots, too. That’s the benefit of everyone practicing leadership.
If you are interested in working with kind humans and influencing excellent performance with strength, consideration, and kindness, we’d love to connect with you. Explore our careers page and follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.