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Kindness Over Power: The Essential Guide to Leadership and Humanity

We’ve all met that person – the one who thinks they are so important that basic manners and kindness don’t apply to them. The diva celebrity who treats wait staff like servants. The CEO who publicly berates employees for tiny mistakes. But no matter how rich, famous, or powerful someone becomes, they are never too important to be nice to people.

Power Does Not Excuse Poor Behavior

Some powerful figures believe that their status gives them permission to behave however they want without consequences. They think that the regular rules of basic human decency don’t apply to them. But this entitlement and lack of empathy for others will ultimately undermine their success and relationships. True leaders recognize that leadership is a privilege and requires responsibility. They understand that wielding power over others must be balanced with compassion.

As Michelle Obama has stated: “You don’t get to where you are in life by yourself. So how dare you treat others poorly.” Power comes with responsibility to others. No matter how important someone becomes, they should never forget that treating people with kindness is what gives life meaning. Acting with integrity and respect earns trust and goodwill that serve leaders more than arrogant self-importance ever could.

Kindness Breeds Loyalty

Treating people well, whether they are a powerful figure or server waiting your table, fosters devotion. Employees will go above and beyond for leaders who respect them. Being polite costs nothing but pays dividends by cultivating loyalty. It creates an energy that draws people to you.

Great leaders understand that their success depends on those carrying out their vision. They know elevating others elevates the enterprise. You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the people they don’t need anything from. Some manifestation of the Golden Rule spans across cultures: treat others as you wish to be treated. Applying this principle breeds positive energy that people are attracted to.

Stay Humble and Ground Yourself

The trap that befalls many prominent figures is they start to buy into their own hype and ego. They surround themselves with sycophants telling them how brilliant they are. They need more grounded voices to call out when they cross the line. Position and accomplishments are ephemeral. Any fall from grace stemming from big egos gone wild illustrates the need for humility.

True wisdom is recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge and role. It’s acknowledging the humanity in everyone. Grounding yourself in life outside accolades prevents inflated self-perception. Small acts of kindness serve as reminders that, despite our titles and salaries, we’re all basically equal. Hold onto that perspective, no matter how far you climb.

Be the Change

Mahatma Gandhi’s famous call to action applies here: “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” Want more kindness and empathy among the powerful? Then even amid pressure and stress, demonstrate those qualities yourself. Lead by example – make graciousness your trademark, even when others are not.

Choose gentle encouragement over criticism. Find ways to uplift others rather than control them. Job titles may make that temporarily easier to impose your will. But earning voluntary cooperation through decency creates much healthier relationships and better outcomes. And it all starts with your own behavior.

The clout that comes with achievement does not absolve anyone from common courtesy. Some prominent people justify mistreatment by believing others should serve them. But no one is too important to be nice to people. Leaders focused on crafting a positive legacy know that maintaining humility and kindness, despite their ascendance, earns them the most respect. How one utilizes authority shows the true measure of the individual. The warrant to delegate tasks is not an exemption from basic decency. Stay grounded in shared hopes and struggles that unite all people – and lead from there.

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