Our Candidates 2021

Tony Lanser

Chief Operating Officer, Fidelity Internationa

As COO for the Workplace and Personal Financial Health (WPFH) business at Fidelity International, Tony is responsible for the overall operation and governance of the global distribution business, including operations, client service teams and the delivery of WPFH strategy. He is also Global Executive Sponsor for the Enable Strand within the diversity and inclusion network at Fidelity, committed to improving accessibility for employees with disabilities and health conditions. During the pandemic, Tony was Global Lead for Fidelity’s response.

Tony has put caring, compassion and empathy into the working model at Fidelity by promoting and leading by example with flexible working in the workplace and supporting employees in achieving a better worklife balance. He has championed acts of kindness and, during the pressurised environment presented to the workforce by the pandemic, he encouraged leaders to pay attention to employees and to recognise those who may have been struggling and offer help to make a real difference.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Fundamentally, I believe that an organisation that is compassionate and shows empathy will be commercially more successful. Empathy and compassion are at the heart of my leadership style, and kindness in the workplace inspires trust and confidence, enabling us to provide better outcomes for our clients and our colleagues.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
• It’s important to really listen. • People who feel supported perform better and are more open to being challenged and stretched. • Always remember most people who work in your team want to do a good job so you have a shared objective immediately. • Showing your own vulnerabilities helps – no one is perfect. • Don’t accept unkind or disrespectful behaviour.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I had a particularly challenging time with the arrival of my first son. The empathy and compassion my boss showed me created a huge amount of loyalty to the individual and the organisation that lasted for many years. Those experiences also made me a better leader. Showing empathy and support through difficult times can also create loyalty in individuals.

Susannah Schofield

Founder, John Schofield Trust

25 years ago, while she was pregnant with their first child, Susie’s husband, John Schofield, was shot dead while covering the civil war in Yugoslavia for the BBC. He was 29. Since then, Susie has kept her husband’s memory alive by founding and then running a charity that provides mentorship and support for young journalists. The moving spirit of the John Schofield Trust is to enable young journalists who come to the profession without connections or privilege to achieve their potential.

“Susie Schofield has been a model of calm, principled, kind leadership since she formed the John Schofield Trust in 1996. From the beginning, her principle has been that the trust should not just espouse the principles of kindness and personal support, but should embody it. The trust is an institution which provides support for young journalists and a place where career and personal concerns can be brought. Susie has succeeded in attracting an extraordinary board of trustees, champions and supporters.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is an intrinsic part of effective leadership, especially in organisations dedicated to changing the world. Kindness bestows a gravitas that is impossible to attain through other methods – it shows that you are willing to take the difficult path and to be dangerous through your vulnerability. One of our mentees recently said, 'the John Schofield Trust is a kind organisation'. I believe the change we want to enact in the world has to start within.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
The carrot is far more effective than the stick: people are more motivated by encouragement, support and understanding than anything else. For me, this starts with the day-to-day and remembering to be generous with colleagues and peers. I am conscious that the John Schofield Trust is sustained by volunteers who willingly give their time for free. I always try to take the time to acknowledge their valuable contributions: without their kindness, the Trust is nothing.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
After my husband, John Schofield, was killed in 1995, I received scores of letters from viewers, listeners and his colleagues and managers, all telling me how much they valued him and predicted a great future ahead. John knew none of this. I vowed then to promote a culture of recognising and appreciating young journalists for their skills, energy and talent in the here and now. This remains the guiding principle of the John Schofield Trust.

Stacey Mullock

Senior Volunteering & Legacy Manager, The Football Association

Stacey joined The Football Association (The FA) two years ago, where she has demonstrated exceptional collaborative leadership skills in galvanising a multitude of stakeholders to increase the opportunities for girls and women to experience football. Stacey leads the recently launched UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 legacy programme, working directly with nine host cities pledging their commitment to inspiring positive change through football.

“Stacey is an authentic leader who displays a deep sense of empathy for her team and colleagues. Her care and kindness have created a team culture that encourages sharing, creativity and innovation. Stacey is a leader who builds strong and open relationships that create a safe and welcoming environment where everyone feels like they’re seen, heard and valued.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Effective leadership is about creating a culture in which people feel comfortable, confident and willing to take risks without fear of failure. Kindness underpins all of this because if people don't feel valued, no matter what job they do, you will never get the best from them. Kindness is not a difficult thing to show – that little bit of extra thought can go a long way and you get so much more in return.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Put yourself in their shoes – I often think how I would feel in any given situation and what response I would want from a line manager or colleague. Having empathy for others is often reciprocated. It's the little things that matter the most – yes, it's nice to get praise after a successful piece of work but checking in with people on a day-to-day basis shows others that you genuinely care. Look out for the wellbeing of others too – with mental health on the decline you never quite know what other people are going through. It takes nothing to be kind.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Someone who I have great respect for once told me a story about helping a homeless person get back on their feet. She didn't go out of her way for any personal gain – the person that she helped didn't even know who she was, but it was about doing the right thing and treating everyone with the same kindness and respect, no matter their situation. That story will always stick with me and will forever be a reminder that even the smallest acts of kindness can change someone's life for the better.

Spriha Srivastava

Executive Editor, Insider

Spriha is Executive Editor of Business Insider, overseeing the UK bureau. Prior to joining Insider, Spriha was the Deputy Digital News Editor for CNBC International, leading on market-moving, fast-paced business news stories. When Spirha joined Insider, her team totalled five reporters. In a year, it has grown to nearly 40, and she now leads one of the biggest teams in the UK. Her hiring strategy has been extremely mindful of diversity and inclusion, searching wider to ensure the hiring of the best talent in the industry.

“Spriha oozes leadership. She heads up the UK operation of Insider but remains as approachable as possible for everyone in the company as well as the industry. She regularly mentors both inside and outside the company and has pushed other divisions for big policy changes such as maternity, internship hiring and back-to-work from maternity policies. She has an interpersonal relationship with each member of her team and regularly conducts anonymous pulse check surveys in order to stay on top of what her team is thinking.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I believe in the saying 'spread kindness like confetti.' There can never be enough kindness in the world and if each of us do our part in spreading kindness then the world will be a much better place. A kind leader can bring out the best in their team, help people achieve their goals but will always put mental health and wellbeing first. A kind leader works effectively by being empathetic and building interpersonal relationships with their teams and leading them towards success.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
The pandemic taught us how to be kind to one another. We were all confined to our homes while continuing to work and carrying on with our daily lives. Support networks across the workplace, friends and family helped get us through lockdown. As the Executive Editor for the UK newsroom, I came up with several initiatives like virtual coffee hangouts, happy hours, and other virtual events to keep team morale high.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
As a journalist we are often thrown in the deep end when a big story breaks. June 22, 2016 was one such day. I was working at CNBC and a group of us worked through the night to cover the Brexit vote and results. Next morning, we were tired, exhausted and hungry but the news flow wasn’t getting any slower. I was just starting to think about getting some coffee and breakfast when I saw the Senior Vice President of the company making his way through the newsroom with a pen and paper in his hand. He went to each desk and took everyone’s coffee and breakfast orders, went out to get them and then brought them to our desks. I was beyond impressed and so touched by this act of kindness. It showed his empathy as a leader and gave everyone in the newsroom another big push to keep going

Sir John Peace

Chairman, Midlands Engine Partnership & Midlands Connect

Sir John Peace is Chairman of the Midlands Engine Partnership and Midlands Connect. He is  Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University. Sir John has had a long and distinguished business career covering the technology, financial services  and retail sectors. He has been Chairman, Chief Executive and Founder of Experian; Chief  Executive of GUS; Chairman of Standard Chartered; Chairman of Burberry, and is currently  Chairman of Octo Telematics.

“Sir John Peace has a visionary and inclusive leadership style. He has the rare combination of being clear in his views and knowing how to make the most of the organisation or corporation yet, at the same time, being humble and willing to listen to ideas. He respects people at all levels of the organisation and has been a strong proponent of female leadership.”

Doesn’t have any answers to the questions.

Shernaz Engineer

Managing Director, Verity Appointments

Shernaz founded Verity Appointments over 20 years ago. It was set up as a legal secretarial agency but now also focuses on general business support staff. Shernaz later started Veracity Education, supplying teachers to schools. She is Vice-Chair of Learning for Life, promoting primary education for girls in Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. She is also a Trustee of Tamasha Theatre Company and a board member of the Asian Women’s Resource Centre, helping women suffering from domestic violence and forced marriage.


“Shernaz believes in compassion in the workplace. She is approachable and pragmatic, and staff are not afraid to admit to mistakes. She is generous with her time and advice and has an open-door policy in the workplace. Shernaz is a very supportive employer, and staff feel that they are valued and treated as individuals. This attitude of kindness fosters loyalty from staff, and the spirit of kindness and cooperation percolates throughout the company. Staff relations in the company are very close, and there is a great sense of esprit de corps which comes from the top.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness aligned with fairness and sometimes firmness is essential to effective leadership. It brings the best out of people. They become more responsive.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Understand each colleague's problems and give assistance. Having positive role models who react kindly in the workplace creates a culture of kindness. Kind deeds are better than empty words.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
In 2008, when the financial and banking crisis occurred, a client offered to give me another part of his business which, prior to the crisis, was managed in-house. This gave us a valuable and timely income stream that was a lifeline for a struggling business.

Serena Chaudhry

Associate Director, Dataminr

Serena joined AI firm Dataminr as a Senior Manager at the end of January 2020, after an illustrious career in journalism reporting across the EMEA region for Reuters and the BBC. Her move into the tech industry coincided with a global pandemic, and it was while navigating this unprecedented challenge that her true skills as an empathetic and kind leader really shone through. Within a year, she was promoted to Associate Director, in recognition of her wide-ranging impact as both a leader and culture carrier. A leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, Serena has had a profound impact on Dataminr’s global culture in this space, serving on the Global Leadership Council for DEI at the company and as Head of the Salam@Dataminr Employee Resource Group.

“Serena approaches each day, challenge and interaction with kindness. Her leadership style is inclusive of all team members, and she excels at building relationships cross-functionally and connecting more junior colleagues to the greater company purpose. Since joining the team in London, she has successfully managed to build an empathetic culture through encouraging inclusive team dialogue, approaching change management with empathy and developing a rapport with both junior and senior colleagues. Serena’s communication style is professional and business-minded but always empathetic and driven by a people-first approach.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Being kind is central to any relationship, but it is intrinsic to effective leadership. As a leader, I want to inspire and uplift all those around me to ensure our collective success. People are critical to the success of any organisation and if you truly want to build something meaningful, then focus on being a leader who is kind, empathetic and emotionally intelligent. The rest will fall into place.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
As a leader who aspires to inspire my team every day to achieve their full potential, kindness, trust, respect and fairness are always top of mind. Be honest and transparent about your decisions. They may not always be seen favourably, but if your approach is considerate and open, you are more likely to succeed in building trusting relationships and the kind of work culture that everyone will want to positively contribute to. Yes, sometimes conversations are difficult and uncomfortable. But, if you show you care, give clear feedback, recognise success and nurture a supportive environment, you will help to create a new generation of leaders who understand the importance of kindness in the workplace.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I learnt about the importance of kindness at a very young age thanks to my parents. As entrepreneurs who worked primarily from home during my formative years, they gave my brother and I a unique front seat into how to build successful companies where kindness is a cornerstone. I would often sit in my father’s business meetings, quietly observing his interactions and conversations. Every single person he engaged with was always treated with kindness, respect, fairness and equality. My father and my mother have been my greatest teachers and these lasting memories of how they wove kindness into the essence of their lives have shaped my approach to my work today.

Sayeh Ghanbari

Partner & UK&I Business Consulting Leader, EY

Sayeh has risen rapidly through the ranks at EY, becoming an equity Partner at the age of 35 and leading the Business Consulting sub-service line at the age of 39, a role she currently holds. Sayeh also works as a consultant, advising executive teams on business model redesign. She believes strongly in creating mutual value with clients, and her leadership style is authentic: always present, approachable and engaged, and equipped with a clear vision. She is also Co-Chair for Diversity and Inclusion for EY UK.

“Always looking for opportunities for others, Sayeh has a natural way of engaging that inspires young talent. You’ll see Sayeh be the first to celebrate successes and achievements in her team and across EY. A champion and force to drive change for good in diversity and inclusion, Sayeh is a strong advocate for gender equality and is on the Board of Women in Science and Engineering. She is also Co-Chair for Diversity and Inclusion for EY UK. Sayeh is already a shining advocate and ambassador for kindness in leadership.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Today's business world is more complex than ever and its leaders are navigating everything, from the effects of climate change to motivating and developing employees they've never met. In these complex and changeable times, effective leadership requires simplicity and humanity, and this can only be achieved when it's rooted in empathy and walking in the shoes of others.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
I think it's important that kindness and empathy are in our ‘work vocabulary’. Emotive words are not alien to the vocabulary at work: we talk about people's passions and dreams, their ability to inspire and engage – regularly speaking about kindness and empathy shows that we value these things.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
At EY, our response to the pandemic was rooted in looking after our people, our clients and our business with equal emphasis. Our decision to protect jobs during uncertainty was a moral one, but ultimately one that resulted in financial returns as business picked up as well as employee loyalty. Doing the right thing paid off.

Sarah Daniels

Health & Social Care Lead, Care Research & Technology Centre, UK Dementia Research Institute

Sarah is the Health & Social Care Lead at the UK Dementia Research Institute’s Care Research & Technology Centre. She has been an occupational therapist in the NHS for over 20 years, specialising in rehabilitation for complex neurological conditions. She was the Clinical Lead Therapist for the Albany Unit at UCLH and Charing Cross Neurological Rehabilitation Unit. She is currently an allied health consultant working to co-design and drive the translation of digital health and social care research.

“Sarah’s top priority is people – both patients and staff. This drives her vision for the service: a supportive, nurturing staff group, which sets the culture for how the team works with patients. She is creative within her work, supporting her team so as to collaboratively solve problems and challenges by thinking outside the box. This has meant collaborations and strides in research into more integrated systems for patients with dementia. She believes in her team wholeheartedly, which has made the workplace an incredibly rich environment where people feel free to be themselves.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Good leadership encourages people to work together to achieve a collective goal. This requires clear objectives and careful planning and crucially, the ability to work together. Kindness is critical to building trust and with trust comes cohesion and loyalty. Kindness in leadership is about supporting personal growth and creating a culture where people feel valued, confident, and competent. Leading with kindness creates teams who actively embrace challenge and take responsibility. In my experience, people who feel connected and supported are much more likely to invest in their work and more importantly, enjoy it.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Kindness in leadership is not contrived. It can’t be switched on or off. It’s an authentic way of being that people respond to. Kindness needs to be modelled and celebrated – which sadly we are not always good at doing. Here are a few of my top tips:

Listen, listen - really listen: This is about giving people your full attention and the time to explain, explore and reflect

Respect the grey: This directly follows on from listening. Life is rarely black or white. Only by being open to the grey will you hear what you need to hear. Seek to understand nuance, complexity and context and be ready to re-evaluate based on new insights.

Welcome fresh perspectives: Ask the newest members of the team what could be done better and then empower them to make those changes.

Promote growth mindset: Celebrate risk taking and make failure part progress. This is an important part of being innovative and creative. It doesn’t mean being reckless – it’s more about an attitude that is open to trying, and not scared of trying again - and then trying again. A culture that doesn’t ‘blame and shame’ when things don’t work, allows for continuous iteration and improvement.

Be open with your own weaknesses and vulnerability – I have many. Sharing these reinforces the importance of teamwork to maintain a balance of required skills and aptitudes. Perhaps of greater value is providing a genuine opportunity for others to step forward with their support and add their value. Being confident in your own shortcomings, means that people are more likely to ask for help when they need it and offer help when they can; in turn, reducing the risk of concealed mistakes and hiden anxiety.

And finally, be kind to yourself. This may sound a bit trite, but in this context, I am referring to the emotional cost of being engaged and responsive, as a leader. There are high risks of burnout when overextending yourself. Keeping check on your own limits and boundaries can be really hard and something I still find difficult. There you go – a definite weakness!

Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
One of the most challenging and rewarding experiences for me both personally and professionally was as the lead for a rehabilitation unit that was subject to a TUPE transfer, from one NHS trust to another. Anyone who has experienced a TUPE process will know of the huge uncertainty and instability that it brings. There were significant operational hurdles that needed to be overcome but with the move came huge potential for innovation, development, and growth. I spent a lot of time with everyone involved, trying to understand what motivated different members of the team and how they perceived the change. Collectively, we built a vision of what the service could become. This vision shaped the blueprint for this service and ultimately determined resource allocation. We began to understand that if enough of us moved together, we could make it work but that critical mass was crucial for success. I was delighted when a core team of fantastic nurses and therapists made the commitment to that vision and moved with the service. Together we set out to rebuild everything we knew we did well and improve on all the things we thought we could do better. The culture of the Charing Cross Neurorehabilitation Unit is kind and remains kind – both patient centred and people focussed. Of all the things that I have ever been part of, I am most proud to have been part of that.

Ruth Rowan

Consulting Chief Marketing Officer, Self-Employed

Ruth is a consulting CMO accountable for marketing strategies that ensure global brand and product strategies support her clients’ growth ambitions. One of Ruth’s most recent significant achievements was leading a team to drive a complex integration that formed NTT Ltd. in 2019. 31 companies and brands came together to form the 50,000-employee-strong $11 billion business it is today.

“Ruth’s unrelenting focus on kindness has shaped the culture of a globally dispersed team. It has unified the team particularly during the global pandemic. For Ruth, kindness is about taking the time and making a proactive effort to, firstly, understand the purpose, motivation and passions of others and, secondly, help them achieve these. Central to Ruth’s beliefs are that kind leaders put people at the centre of their business, as people are key to organisational performance and impact.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is taking the time and making a proactive effort to, firstly, understand the purpose, motivation and passions of others and, secondly, help them to achieve those. For leaders, it’s understanding our colleagues and ensuring, wherever possible, that the objectives of the organisation are met whilst also fulfilling the personal objectives of our colleagues. Kind leaders get the most out of their teams through allowing them to be the best versions of themselves, whilst also achieving the teams’ goals. It’s helping others be their best, find fulfilment and, ultimately, happiness.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Honesty and transparency are at the core of kindness. For example, that often means tackling a difficult conversation whether it’s about underperformance, changes in business strategy or resourcing that is deprioritising a team or individual, or even taking risks in moving colleagues into new roles that give them stretch or may be a better fit. And, of course, being available for others – actively listening and open to ideas other than my own.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
The pandemic has married kindness and culture together. We've all spent more time asking 'how are you?' and actively listening for what is said and unsaid in our responses. It's made us more aware of personal circumstances, family, pressures outside of work and, as a result, made our culture kinder, which has increased performance.

Ranajoy Basu

Partner & Head of Structured Finance and India Practice, McDermott Will & Emery

As a Senior Partner in McDermott Will & Emery’s Finance Team, Ranajoy focuses his practice on structured finance, with his extensive experience in debt capital markets transactions. He is recognised as one of the world’s leading lawyers in cross-border social impact finance structures and has advised on some of the most innovative financial inclusion structures, including the Educate Girls Social Impact Bond (improving the education of children in India), and the recent groundbreaking Utkrisht Bond (reducing maternal and infant mortality).

“Ranajoy’s compassion, willingness to understand and eagerness to resolve any issues and struggles his team face is incredibly commendable in view of the stressful and fast-paced environment we work in. Ranajoy’s leadership and desire to take others with him on the journey is what makes him an all-inclusive and outstanding leader. He ultimately wins hearts, which is an incredibly unique and refreshing talent for a senior finance partner of a global law firm!”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Effective and better leadership starts with simply being kind in life and at work. Kindness is the easiest means of developing trust, loyalty and a genuine sense of caring amongst colleagues. It is the easiest means of building stronger relationships with one's team. I truly believe that being kind and showing true appreciation of others' hard work inspires greater results. Kindness improves collaboration and collegiality and, consequently, results in improved productivity. Through being genuinely kind to people, leaders can set off a positive chain reaction which brings people together to create a positive impact in the workplace.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Particularly as the world emerges from the grips of a global pandemic, it is extremely important for there to be a genuine understanding, compassion and care towards colleagues and juniors in the way people manage work and life balance. I genuinely believe that being kind to others in the workplace goes a long way in developing relationships, fostering a culture of valuing people and bringing the best out of people. Here are a few tips: • Being kind is easy and it costs nothing. • Acknowledge people's hard work – say ‘thank you’ sincerely and as often as possible. • Check in on people – it goes a long way, particularly as people still work remotely. • Appreciate good work and spread the word. Let as many people know of others’ hard work and success. • Support people towards their goals. True leadership is about empowering others to achieve their best! • Make kindness a habit. It is infectious!
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
One of my colleagues always makes the time to provide written feedback to junior staff employed at restaurants. When travelling abroad on business trips, I have always seen him order packed food for our driver and their family (when he has been driving us from one meeting to another in the heat of an Indian summer, for example!). His sincerity and genuine kindness have had a lasting impact on me and I have witnessed the extremely positive impact that a genuine gesture of kindness can have.

Ramat Tejani

Education Programme Lead (EMEA), Amazon Web Services

Ramat is a multi-award-winning woman in tech who leads Amazon Web Services’ GetIT education programme. This programme aims to empower female talent within the business, building confidence and leadership skills, while also encouraging more young people, especially girls, to consider a career in technology. Ramat is also the Chief Encouragement Officer of The Inspiration Box, focused on intentional personal growth through the creation of spaces and products that encourage people to discover, embrace and nurture the truest versions of themselves.

“Ramat is a selfless leader. Her commitment to helping others is demonstrated in all areas of her life. At Amazon, she motivates young people to engage in STEM careers and she has been instrumental in growing what is now one of Amazon’s flagship education programmes. Ramat is also on the board of Yaraah schools, a charity facilitating the education of children in rural parts of Ghana. In the face of a challenging or potentially stressful situation, Ramat is able to focus on what she can control and influence to achieve an outcome, and is never critical of others.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is foundational in building trust in relationships and effective leaders need to continuously build trust with various stakeholders in order to be successful. Kindness in leadership leads to individuals and teams feeling safe, respected and empowered. Creating such an environment encourages individuals to bring their true selves to work and flourish in their own way. As the saying goes - no act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
- Remember everyone is going through something you know nothing about.
- Learn to actively listen to what others are saying
- Ask others how you may be able to help them rather than assuming what help they may need
- Smile!
- At the start or end of a regular monthly meeting asking everyone to share one thing they are thankful for
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
During a really tough time last year, the members of a book group who I had only recently gotten to know, each wrote a note of encouragement on colourful paper. One of them hand delivered them in a card and it felt like the warm hug that I really needed at that moment. When I have the occasional difficult day I read through the notes over again. The kindness shared with that collective action was priceless.

Rachel Boyle

Head of Finance, PowerON Platforms

Rachel joined PowerON two years ago, swiftly rising to Head of Finance. Her work has seen her develop an effective finance function that has underpinned PowerON’s growth and stability. She is an atypical finance person – relationship-driven and intent on building supportive working relationships inside PowerON and with external parties. During the pandemic, her “kindness first” mindset made a massive contribution, ranging from conceiving great ideas for boosting morale, to volunteering for training as the company’s first mental health first-aider, to creating a new wellbeing hub.

“Rachel sets high standards but goes out of her way to support others. This has included personal support for struggling colleagues, surprising her team with gifts to recognise extra effort, and always being available to help someone else solve a problem or get something done. The impact of this is seen in her ability to use her relationships to support sales in closing deals and in the improvement in credit control performance, as well as in the putting forward of ideas such as sending treat packages to employees’ children during lockdown and personally hand-writing all of the notes.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness in leadership is as important as any other trait. Being humble, having integrity and high morals as a leader shows your team what you expect from them too. Kind leaders can empower their team to be kind to others, encouraging trust in a workplace, increasing productivity and improving the company culture.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
At PowerOn we have created a safe place for people to be themselves. We have a wellbeing online hub with mental health first aiders on hand, and a wellbeing room where people can take time out or chat with line managers and colleagues. We have broken down the walls on mental health and we talk about it openly and with kindness. Everyone is important at PowerON and we make sure they know it.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
In the middle of lockdown, the PowerON management team sent personalised parcels to every child of our employees. The parcels included handwritten letters thanking the child for ‘lending’ us their parent, a bookmark, puzzle book, sweets, notebook, coloured pens and more. The children loved them but our employees and their partners were really touched that we cared and understood what they were balancing at home whilst working. I didn't expect it to have such a massive effect, but it did.

Professor Murray Grant

Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security, University of Warwick

Murray’s research interests centre on plant–microbe interactions with a predominant focus on host responses to pathogenic bacteria. He also studies the mechanisms underpinning biocontrol and plant growth promotion conferred by beneficial fungi, with an interest in applying expertise to emerging tree diseases. Murray has served as President of the British Society of Plant Pathology and has published several publications in his research field.

“Murray is incredibly supportive and generous, with his only intention being to help whoever is in need. He tries to find a connection with everyone in order to share knowledge and ideas. Whenever there is a laboratory meeting, he makes sure everyone is well on a personal and professional level, seeking always to find a balance. Some lab members find him strict because he pushes to get the best from you.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Academic research in biology is a highly competitive and challenging environment but it is also highly rewarding – the opportunity to be ‘the first’ to discover something new and exciting. Good leadership teases the best from inquiring minds and incentivises an individual to achieve their capacity. Kindness is not about saying one is doing a good job, but rather testing the researcher’s thought processes, helping formulate hypotheses, and providing the intellectual stimulation and resources that allow them to achieve their potential.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Research relies on a huge amount of trust, intellectual input, support and engagement. Kindness is embedded in creating the ideas and opportunities, and guiding the researcher to understand the potential of the project. Engendering mutual trust and commitment leads to exciting research. It is inevitable that at times one may have to use evidence-based criticism to be kind. This is effective only in an environment of mutual trust.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I was blessed with a remarkable Indian PhD student. She arrived excited, totally committed and with huge ambition. While intelligent, she lacked an appropriate knowledge base and the early days were very emotional. It was truly amazing to mentor and watch someone with so much energy, internal strength and desire blossom. She evolved into an incredibly well organised, critically objective and highly productive world-class scientist. Her energy and enthusiasm were infectious, and she sparked life into the laboratory. Her work transformed our concepts. We remain great friends to this day.

Professor Aisha K. Gill

Professor of Criminology, University of Roehampton

Aisha is dedicated to highlighting crimes against women and children and to effecting widespread change in the visibility of, and accountability for, these crimes throughout Britain and the world. She is an outstanding activist academic who teaches widely on the subject of violence against Black, minority ethnic and refugee women and children. Over the last decade, her dedication to addressing violence against women and children has resulted in a number of concrete changes in the UK.

“In the last 16 months, Gill has been actively working with a number of women’s charities supporting at-risk Black, minority ethnic and refugee women and children. In June 2020, she set up an emergency Covid fund for victims of abuse. This emergency ‘no recourse to public funds’ campaign has so far raised over £66,000, helping to feed and clothe women and children who are temporarily being supported by other NGOs. Aisha has changed the visibility of this cause in terms of her leadership and community activism.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
As we continue to witness the devastating impacts of Covid-19, there’s never been a greater need for us to practise compassionate leadership in our communities. We all have a duty of care to the most vulnerable in our midst, a moral obligation to ensure that we don’t turn a blind eye to injustice. For me, kindness is a fundamental aspect of being human. This means we all have a part to play in nurturing cultures of compassion for asylum-seekers, refugees and victims/survivors of gender-based violence.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Tips that can help people ‘walk the talk’ and put their belief in kindness into practice at work:
1. Do the emotional work of caring. Have regular conversations with your staff to check in with them and see how they’re doing.
2. Pay attention when your staff express concern about job stability. Create opportunities that will allow your staff to develop and flourish in their careers.
3. Acknowledge trauma and put employer commitment to diversity and equality into practice.
4. Centre the views of others in an inclusive, transformative fashion. This feeds into dignity and respect in the workplace.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I’ve experienced so many forms of kindness in my adult life. I particularly remember and acknowledge the strangers who took me in when I was homeless. They didn’t just give me shelter—they equipped me with the hope, resilience and strength I needed to survive. For that I am forever grateful—without their kindness, I wouldn’t be here today.

Priyanka Chauhan

Inclusive Dance Practitioner and Community Arts & Wellbeing Coordinator, East London Cares

Priyanka is a community-focused creative specialising in Indian dance. Her work uses dance as a tool for community and individual wellbeing, strengthening the inherent qualities dance has to lift mood, build confidence, develop social skills and allow people to express themselves. She has worked with autistic adults, isolated over-60s, women’s groups and people living with Parkinson’s or Dementia. Priyanka has also delivered many creative community programmes.

“Priyanka understands how to lead different groups and uses leadership qualities stemming from her dance training. Dance has provided her with the skills to understand group dynamics, to be flexible and to change strategy when surprises arise. Her passion, combined with her business sense, led to her being awarded funding by Arts Council England. Her kind yet assertive approach of leadership will no doubt develop her vision to use dance and the arts as a tool for wellbeing to strengthen and benefit multiple communities.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Effective leadership means understanding the needs, challenges, and experiences of those you are leading. Without kindness you cannot begin to truly listen or empathise with another person’s journey. Kindness will create a world of collaboration, one where there is no power over others, but there is support and strengthening of a whole team, a whole community.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Honesty and transparency. If you can clearly and openly share why you have made a certain decision, then you can create an environment of conversation, empathy and understanding which is a breeding ground for kind behaviour. When we know the intentions of those we work with are good, we are more willing to offer our kindness to them. Honesty and transparency are not easy qualities, so the leader will need to have done a lot of background work personally!
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I have had many people mirror what kindness in leadership is for me and it is because of these people (dance teachers, students, colleagues, mentors, and friends) that I have had the confidence to take risks in my own career – risks that I thought were ‘too kind or naïve’. It is their kindness which strengthened my work. We each need to keep passing on kindness and showing the world that being kind is not weak, it is revolutionary.

Polly Harrar

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, The Sharan Project

Polly is a women’s rights activist who helps victims of forced marriage and honour-based abuse. She founded the Sharan Project 12 years ago to empower, educate and inspire vulnerable women. She is a member of the Forced Marriage Unit Partnership Board and a partner of Comic Relief’s Our Girl campaign. Polly has received many awards for her work, including the Points of Light award from former UK Prime Minister David Cameron on International Women’s Day.

“Polly believes that everyone has the right to basic human rights and that adversity does not define you; rather, it teaches you how to better the lives of others. She thinks less about herself and more about others, which truly makes her a genuine and kind leader.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Effective leadership is reflected not only in your words but also in your actions. Treating others the way you wish to be treated involves kindness, compassion and respect. Kindness should not to be seen as a weakness but rather as a strength that should be celebrated and embedded as a core value. As the late Caroline Flack so rightly stated ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind.’
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Encourage and support holding regular #BeKind weeks where staff, volunteers and partners are asked to share their acts of kindness – this could include smiling, helping someone in need, fundraising, volunteering, checking in on a neighbour or even donating items to a food bank. We hold regular team meetings to 'high five' achievements, share challenges and offer support. It is a small thing but always ends with positivity and solidarity. Contact your partners, peers and friends just to check in and see how they are doing, sometimes you may be the only person to ask them this and it can mean so much just to know you care.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
It is the kindness of our volunteers that has helped us get where we are today and I am truly humbled by their continued support. By donating their time and skills, they have made it possible to raise awareness and support those in need, and by sharing their experiences and getting involved, they have empowered and inspired the lives of so many.

Penny Scott-Bayfield

Group Finance Director, Bloomsbury Publishing

With extensive experience in rapidly changing markets, Penny was appointed to the Bloomsbury Board in 2018, when she joined the company as Group Finance Director. Prior to this, she was Finance Director of Condé Nast Britain, and held senior finance roles at Sky and lastminute.com. Penny qualified – and began her career – as a chartered accountant with Deloitte.

“Penny engages with everyone around her with great empathy and kindness, regardless of their position. She is a great listener and is always looking for ways in which she can bring positive change in her colleagues’ lives even when they aren’t directly reporting to her. She runs a busy finance department of a successful publishing company and keeps her team’s needs at the forefront of her work ethic. Regardless of her busy schedule and demanding job, she makes time to get to know everyone she works with.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I remember clearly and am so grateful for the many acts of kindness, large and small, shown to me throughout my career. Every single time I have felt motivated, energised and valued. Continuing to pass this on to my colleagues and my wider network is such an important part of the leader I aspire to be. I always want my colleagues to feel valued, supported, motivated, and challenged – kindness is the foundation of the respect and trust needed for this.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Listen, really listen. Creating an environment of trust and asking the simple question – ‘How are you feeling?’ – is really powerful.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Pinky Lilani consistently champions kindness, every single day. Pinky and her team have built kindness into the core of the brilliant Asian Women of Achievement and Women of the Future networks. To be a part of these networks, to see the enormous impact and feel the energy they create, has been an inspiration that has had a significant influence on me.

Onjali Qatara Rauf

Founder & CEO, Making Herstory / O's Refugee Aid Team

Onjali is a bestselling author and the Founder of Making Herstory – an NGO tackling the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. Onjali’s acclaimed debut novel, The Boy in the Back of the Class, draws on her experience delivering emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk. Her second book, The Star Outside My Window, covers hope and resilience in the face of domestic violence, through the innocent eyes of a 10-year-old girl. Onjali is also a TEDx speaker, speaking on “Why Children Are Our Most Powerful Hope for Change”.

“Onjali is always ready to help and listen. She embodies compassionate leadership and has a friendly demeanour. She is kind, and her soft words empower and motivate others. She listens and shows friendship and kindness in the way she speaks to people and responds to crises.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness stems from empathy and compassion. Without having those powers to hand to understand the issues you're seeking to address, or the people who you work with and for, very little can be achieved.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
My three tips would be:
1. Encourage Deep Dive Listening - encourage everyone to listen to the needs and experiences of others without ego or any sense of competition coming into play. Have safe, fun, comforting spaces and times this can take place in.
2. Reward the Load Bearers - encourage everyone to take note of their colleagues' workloads, and reward those that step in and step up to help others out. Too often, those that do, go unnoticed! Praise and acknowledgement needs to be shared in abundance.
3. Celebrate...Everything! Gauge the special events of those who work beside and for you, and celebrate them to the maximus. So whether it's Eid or beating cancer; a return from paternity/maternity leave or Hannukah, make an effort to ensure everyone marks them too. This will do wonders for enhancing understanding and diminishing racial/sexist inequalities and misunderstandings too!
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Being a campaigner for women's and refugees' basic human rights, sadly leads to many an avalanche of hate mail. At times, there can be endless streams of it. At one particular tough point, I honestly believed I might need to shut down Making Herstory for mine and everyone's safety. But then, out of the blue, I receieved a DM that completely changed everything. It was from a woman who, a couple of years ago, had receieved one of our pre-packed suitcases at a refuge. She wrote to say that she had never forgotten the hope and renewed energy our seemingly small gift had given her, and that she was watching us from afar and thankful for everything we did. So often we never hear from those we help - we truly don't expect to. But her kindness in remembering us, and typing those words out to send to us, especially in the midst of such a hard time, hit home. It reminded us of why we existed and why he had to keep going. So here we are, and here we will remain. With her words framed and hanging on our wall.

Nizam Uddin OBE

Chief Strategy Officer, Algbra

Nizam is Chief Strategy Officer of Algbra, a technology-based financial ecosystem dedicated to global financial inclusion by focusing on the under-served and underbanked. Nizam was previously the Senior Head of Mosaic and Community Integration at The Prince’s Trust and Head of the Mosaic Initiative, an initiative that connects mentors with young people, helping boost their confidence, self-efficacy and long-term employability. Nizam was awarded an OBE in 2020 for services to social mobility and community integration.

“Nizam is driven by his understanding of the way in which poverty significantly impacts young people’s capacity to participate fully in education, and he is compelled to eradicate disadvantage in whatever ways he can. He works tirelessly for the social mobility of young people and to address the challenges and obstacles that prevent minority communities from having an equal stake in society and the economy. He has complete humility about his own achievements, never seeking limelight for himself and always praising and encouraging others.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness, beginning with oneself, allows for an environment where authenticity thrives. That authenticity is what will help fuel the purpose-driven businesses of the future that are essential for sustainably solving some of humanity's biggest challenges.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Create spaces where colleagues have the opportunity to bring their whole selves to work – go for meals or encourage mass participation in charitable activities – anything that allows connections to form that are based on human experience. This familiarisation beyond work tasks builds the foundation of a kindness culture that must then be maintained. And it must begin at the very top!
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
When I was first elected as a Co-President of the SOAS Students' Union, the late Professor Paul Webley – then Director of SOAS – would regularly go out of his way to make sure I was being the most effective version of myself. From encouraging my voice to be heard in large intimidating committee meetings to having a genuine open-door policy where I often went with viewpoints that challenged the university, I saw first-hand not only what empathetic and kind leadership looked like, but how effective it was.

Mary Brown

Principal Lecturer, Canterbury Christ Church University

Mary started her nursing career at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone in the early sixties. With vast experience, she currently serves as Principal Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her outlook, passion, commitment, and dedication ooze the professional values that underpin not only nursing but the very essence of higher education in the UK. Humble in her approach, Mary demonstrates what an honour it is to care for another person at any stage of their life and this resonates throughout her teachings to healthcare professionals.

“I have been fortunate to know Mary since 2015 when I first came into nursing education. I was mesmerised by Mary’s experience, determination and drive to improve nurse education, both locally and nationally. I remember thinking ‘wow, I want to be like her’ – a true role model with such strong values and love for our vocation. It didn’t take long for me to realise that Mary is admired, trusted and respected by all of her peers, practice partners and the student body.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is an essential leadership attribute to enable engagement and trust within leadership teams. It requires the effective leader to have insight and self awareness, and a sense of presence and humility when a colleague may need a word of encouragement or reassurance. Treat a person as an end in themselves and the rewards are intangible especially to one's own health and wellbeing. I have lived through many challenges in my 70+ years to know kindness is a real strength.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
There are many types of cultures, role, people, task, market, however a Person centered culture is what we need to strive for as leaders. Role modelling appropriator behaviours such honesty with kindness/ the tone of your communication/ engagement , the way values/ philosophy of the organisation are reflected and where people feel really valued and listened too. That the behaviors permeate the system at all levels and particularly at the micro-systems level, where the real work takes place and where the leader can enable connection to the systems/ purpose so that staff become part of the whole and guiding lights.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I went through a particularly hard time 25 years ago when my eldest son became mentally unwell. I did not want to share the magnitude of my grief with many colleagues for fear of rebuke. However, there were two colleagues that just demonstrated kindness on a level that was so profound. They would just look at me, no words were exchanged, just a gentle hug and they knew it was a bad day. I was able to survive many years with those acts of kindness in my teaching career. The same act of kindness was shown by my professor whilst trying to complete my first masters. Those acts of kindness had a profound impact and enabled me to recognise the power behind the acts of understanding as they stood under me when I needed them.

Major General Andrew Roe

Chief Executive & Commandant, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom

Chief Executive & Commandant, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom
Andrew is an infantry officer by background  whose many early leadership roles included operational positions in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was selected to attend the prestigious US Staff College in 2004 and has twice been a personal staff officer to senior leaders. More recent roles have focussed on training, as well as command of all soldiers in Northern Ireland – a role involving careful engagement and communications. Andrew currently leads the Defence Academy, honing the intellectual edge of UK forces.

“Andrew is the ultimate kind leader. Inspiring and bright, yet incredibly humble. His empathy is renowned; he makes time to listen and make one feel valued and included. He is always keen to hear about you, your team and family. He is not afraid to ask for feedback on his approach. Despite being the Chief Executive, he is seen as a friend, colleague, confidant and boss in

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is fundamental to effective leadership. Kindness encourages and empowers; it builds trust and confidence; and it makes for a healthy and enjoyable working environment – where all can shine. It shows we truly value our workforce. And it’s something I demand from my senior leadership team and, frankly, everyone else across the campus (military, civil service and contractor).
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Visit people (informally) regularly – listen to their concerns, get to know their background and aspirations; always walk everywhere – and chat to (and thank people) en route; write thank you notes and recognise birthdays, marriages and deaths; communicate regularly to keep people informed and to thank them for their hard work; and be present and visible.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Rebuilding our relationship with our strategic partners on site involved recognising and thanking them for their hard work; listening to their concerns and apprehensions; and, through kindness and empathy, re-tooling our associations for the benefit of all. This paid immediate dividends: throughout the Covid pandemic, our strategic partners consistently delivered well beyond the contract – achieving, frankly, amazing results. From supporting online education to delivering Defence’s quarantine facility, the results have been truly notable.

Mai Noman

Digital Content Editor, BBC Arabic

Mai is Digital Content Editor for BBC Arabic. She manages a team of digital journalists in the UK and the Middle East and is responsible for creating digital video content aimed at reaching young and female audiences. Before joining BBC Arabic, Mai worked as a senior journalist at the BBC, tasked with overseeing the digital transformation of 40 language services. She assisted journalists based in bureaus all over the world with setting their digital strategies and creating impactful content. Mai excels at finding innovative ways of telling complex stories.

“Calm, kind and supportive – these are a few characteristics that come to mind when speaking about Mai Noman. Her kindness, creativity and love for finding unique solutions to problems are the main reasons behind the notable success of the digital video team at BBC Arabic. Within a year of Mai’s leadership of this team, many people wanted to join simply because it was ‘Mai’s team’. The pandemic was a difficult time for most, and her leadership was exemplary.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kind leadership is about putting people first. As challenging as that can be in a busy newsroom, I’ve found that when you look after people’s wellbeing, they will happily go the extra mile when needed. When you build a culture at work centred around kindness and support, you nurture a healthy team spirit and a supportive work environment where challenges are met as a team and not individually.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Kind leadership at its core is about empathy, but it's also about knowing (and often asking) when a team member needs support and when they need to be challenged to help them in their journey of growth. I've found being transparent and open at work builds trust and encourages a culture of seeking and offering support to other team members.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Most of the valuable lessons I’ve learned about being an effective leader came from a kind manager who was extremely competent and professional but I also always knew that I had her unconditional support. It was the first time I was directly impacted by kind leadership and it transformed my traditional view of how leaders should act to be effective. I'm forever grateful to Sarah Austin for that lesson.

Li Smith

Flight Sergeant Operations Squadron, Tactical Medical Wing, Royal Air Force

Flight Sergeant Li Smith is a Senior RAF Medic currently serving as the Executive Officer on Operations Squadron, HQ Tactical Medical Wing (the RAF’s vanguard medical response unit). Here, her irresistible warmth and tireless commitment to her personnel and their families has seen her team through the unprecedented operational tempo of the pandemic (a physically and mentally draining pace characterised by relentless deployments). She is set to rise to the highest levels of the RAF, championing her cadre and leading with great heart.

“In the military we talk about the conceptual, physical and moral components of the fighting force. All must be nourished if we are to prevail. Li absolutely underpins the moral component: understanding, simply, that if our people, their families and their careers are taken care of, then our people will have the strength to venture into adversity when we ask them to. It is her unstinting faith and investment in people – across rank and organisation – and their loved ones that sustains them, and the strength of kindness in her execution that means they will follow her anywhere.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
People are the most important 'resource' in any organisation and, without them, there would be no successful organisation. Fostering a culture where people approach you because they want to as opposed to because they feel they have to, ensures people feel valued and deliver the best they can. Kindness is a characteristic which inspires loyalty and willingness to build successful teams and organisations.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Treat all people as you would like to be treated. Take the time to get to know people. Really listen to what people are saying, not what you think or want to be hearing. Allow people to be the true 'them'.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
By taking the time to listen and understand an individual's circumstances, I was able to prioritise their needs above other demands. Allowing them some respite from the workplace, alongside representing and supporting them with external agencies, enabled the individual to remain in their current role overseas. The impact was that the individual was able to achieve their goal of operating overseas whilst the organisation was short an employee for a couple of days rather than weeks.

Lewis Neal

Director for Economic Policy, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Lewis has worked as a director at both the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). As Economic Diplomacy Director, he has overseen a vast range of policy work on issues including climate, trade, migration, prosperity, anti-corruption, science, illegal wildlife trade, regulatory diplomacy and global health. Additionally, he has led on relationships with the World Trade Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the G20 and G7 forums.

“Lewis has been a great supporter of his team, notably the many women he has hired and sponsored. He ensures everyone who works for him knows he has huge confidence in them, which allows them to grow in their roles and careers. He offers direct, practical help when people are struggling. He role models getting the right balance between work and home life and, particularly in the last year, has shown that it’s ok to sometimes be distracted with family responsibilities, but still do a good job.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Evidence shows that one of the biggest factors that determine job satisfaction and wellbeing is your relationship with your boss. Bringing kindness to those relationships and how you visibly lead increases wellbeing, engagement and performance.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Focus on your behaviours as a leader - set high standards and have no gaps between words and behaviours. Put kindess and values at the heart of how you recruit - from the qualities you look for, to how you run the process and how you provide feedback to successful and unsuccessful candidates. Develop and encourage a culture of gratitude.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Organisational resilience through periods of pressure or change (especially in 2021) relies on colleagues working with agility to support changing business priorities and in different ways. Kindess does not remove difficult decisions but helps takes the edges off them and enables all to maximise their contribution and wellbeing.

Katy Leeson

Managing Director, Social Chain

Katy is the Managing Director of Social Chain and former Head of New Business & Marketing at MediaCom. Social Chain is a global social media marketing agency working with some of the largest brands in the world. Katy cares deeply about her 150-strong team, and strives to create a culture where mental health is a priority. Key initiatives that she has put into place include employing a personal development coach and wellness manager, plus implementing a work management system to ensure that individuals’ hours are logged to prevent overwork. Katy was an IPA Women of Tomorrow finalist and named in the LinkedIn Top Voices list in 2019 and 2020.

“Kindness is embodied by a leadership style rooted in empathy. Katy has not only impacted the lives of those at Social Chain, but she reaches millions each month through talks with schools, social media and her podcast, I Shouldn’t Say This, But…. Katy has delivered commercial success by securing key retainers and implementing policies allowing for expansion across five global locations. A large proportion of her time is invested into culture – personal development and mental health are a priority.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The best leaders are abundant in empathy. When you genuinely care for your team, it shines through. It makes the people around you feel safe enough to be honest about their needs; it makes them feel supported enough to come to you when they need help and, in doing so, it enables you as a leader to deliver the best support possible.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Creating a culture of kindness at work is rooted in honest conversation. Really listen to your teams, ask for regular feedback and honour their responses by creating policies that address their feelings and experiences head-on. Understand that at its most basic level, kindness is about showing one another respect. Lead by example here and respect the effort your team puts into everything they do – offer public praise, reward hard work and encourage support.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Being part of a culture that has care at its heart, I've seen a lot of examples where kindness has improved the lives of the people who work for us and the work they produce. Personally, having an open approach to therapy and offering it to staff as a benefit helped me to understand how I was struggling with imposter syndrome but, more importantly, how to use it to be a better, more authentic leader.

Katie Houldsworth

People & Purpose Partner of Audit & Assurance, Deloitte

Katie runs the South East Public Audit Group at Deloitte. She has over 24 years of experience at Deloitte, including working on complex, large-listed businesses and as the lead audit engagement partner on a portfolio of listed clients. Her industry experience includes the sectors of telecoms, media and technology, retail, services, marketing services and manufacturing. Katie is a member of the Senior Boardroom Relationship Team at Deloitte and leads the Women on Boards programme.

“Katie embodies kindness in leadership through a consistently thoughtful, fair and respectful approach to others. Her enthusiasm, integrity and good humour make each and every person she meets feel at ease. Katie’s strong can-do attitude is a source of inspiration to many women. She demonstrates that a successful leadership career can be combined with a full and productive family life. Katie is passionate about improving UK corporate governance through increased diversity and inclusion in the boardroom.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
The culture of an organisation is driven by its leaders, they need to embody it and model the behaviours that they want to see each and every day – and that is what I try to do, and encourage other leaders to do. At Deloitte, we have five core values, one of which is ‘take care of each other’ – in my view that is about kindness – it is about looking out for each other, taking the time to talk, and prioritising respect, fairness, development and wellbeing.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
To create a culture of kindness at work, it is important to consider how you would want to be treated in every interaction. It also comes back to us demonstrating role model behaviour. It isn’t always easy when you are under pressure or times are tough, and sometimes explaining what you are going through is important to those you work closely with. I think the more we take care of each other and share experiences – the good and bad – the more we create a culture of kindness.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
A number of years ago, I found myself in a difficult position both at work and at home. I didn’t realise quickly enough that I needed some support, but one of my colleagues spotted that things were challenging – kind words enquiring if I was OK resulted in a support framework being put in place to take some work away and to allow me to focus on home. This made a huge difference and I try to pay it forward whenever I can.

Kathleen Fontana

Managing Director, Critical Infrastructure and Projects, Mitie and President, RICS

Kathleen is Managing Director, Critical Infrastructure and Projects at Mitie. She is also President of RICS. Katheen has held a wide range of senior roles in property, construction and outsourcing across sectors. A highly influential leader, she drives engagement and inspires change in the built environment, using her personal journey to make a wider leadership contribution by building pathways to professionalism that will open up opportunities for many.

Kathleen embodies kindness in leadership by using her position, journey and experience to pave the way for others. Her kindness extends to creating a culture of inclusion and giving her time freely to others, acting with genuine equality. She is passionate about her industry sector and professionalism within it and invests widely in others so that they can develop and grow.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is at the core of great leadership. Only when people feel cared for will they give you their best. Being able to relate to others, be compassionate and empathetic is what separates leaders from managers
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Look for opportunities to make a difference to individuals – with every interaction one has a choice to respond with kindness and empathy. It’s the cumulative impact of many micro moments of compassion that build a deep kindness culture – there are no ‘little things’.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I’ve watched my team display many moments of kindness. We celebrate life’s positive events and console in those darker moments, across all levels of the team. This is so essential to our culture of ‘one team’ – this is what drives success and our determination to win together.

Kate Hamilton-Baily

Partner, Taylor Bennett

Kate is a former army officer and consultant and senior executive at Taylor Bennett, the leading communications and corporate affairs executive search firm. As Partner, Kate is responsible for not only delivering successful business outcomes for her clients, but also for building and leading her own team in the London office. With extensive leadership experience, developed in some of the most testing conditions, Kate’s kind and empathetic leadership approach has been key in developing a resilient company culture, underpinned by inclusivity, respect and fairness.

“Kate epitomises everything one expects from a leader: always willing to listen and learn and blessed with the values of integrity, honesty and professionalism. She puts the needs of others before herself, and, with a refined sense of self-awareness, all her relationships are built on trust. Although a relatively small firm, Kate’s leadership style ensures she and her team deliver outsized results in a positive working environment.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Great leaders are relatable and inspire; rightly or wrongly, they’re totemic figures for the culture and values of any organisation. More than ever during Covid-19, we have experienced the importance of the culture of our organisations. A small act of kindness can change someone's day but also have a bearing on their future behaviour and how they treat people. At scale this influences the culture of an organisation. Good leaders have helped kindness to flourish – perhaps by setting an example – and have reaped the benefits during these extraordinary times.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
It is all about behaviour. There isn’t a one shot solution to this, of course, but going out of your way to speak with someone who is not in your immediate and frequent circle of work activity is important; it mitigates exclusion and ‘team silos’, and ensures that your understanding of culture isn’t taken from a limited group. Conversely, always call out bad behaviour. Toxicity in culture is often the result of one person’s actions and the company’s tolerance of that.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Each of us has had a unique set of challenges throughout the pandemic, no-one has been untouched by it. I think the recognition of personal circumstance and sharing the challenges with the team has allowed people to understand, empathise and be supportive to each other. I am fortunate to work with an incredibly talented team but they are all, to a person, kind. I have literally laughed and cried with them.

Joanna Carver

General Counsel of Commercial Banking, Lloyds Banking Group

Jo is General Counsel of Commercial Banking at Lloyds Banking Group. She strives for improvements for colleagues, the group as a whole and the wider legal industry. Not only does she passionately lead the inclusion and diversity agenda for the Legal & Secretariat teams, she is also Co-Chair of Breakthrough, the women’s network. Jo is also a trustee for the Mindful Business Charter and keenly shares its aspirations across the organisation and beyond. Her priorities are always health and wellbeing, management of stress and workloads, and what she can do to help others.

“Jo’s kindness is genuine and consistent. Colleagues who work with her feel unconditionally supported, empowered and truly part of one team working toward the same goal. Jo aspires to improve working life and work/life balance for all. She has become a trustee of the Mindful Business Charter (MBC), which aims to improve mental health across the legal profession. Jo combines a razor-sharp legal brain and business acumen with humour, generosity, vulnerability and the ability to build strong, trusting relationships.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Where leaders take care of people, issues often take care of themselves in that colleagues who feel valued are more productive, happier, often willing to go the extra mile and, crucially, will provide constructive challenges rather than blindly follow. Kindness helps foster transparent decision making. Our world is changing rapidly and kindness can help colleagues find the confidence within to try new things, something that is crucial for our business to compete and remain relevant.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Make people your priority and take time to demonstrate that, whether through your availability; recognising effort and contribution; making them feel valued because their views count; instilling confidence by not judging but by really listening to what they have to say; not making assumptions; providing words of encouragement when appropriate; being curious about how they really are; engaging in their development; following-up and ensuring you have an open door policy so they know they can come and talk to you because they are your priority.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
I have numerous examples, including in my current role. One of the most significant examples with lasting impact, was when I was pregnant with our first child at the start of my career. Instead of being made to feel my career was over before it had started, the partners positively assisted me in qualifying as a lawyer at home whilst on maternity leave. In turn, this fostered my desire to help others develop their potential and made me realise the crucial impact kindness in leaders can have.

Jo Harris

Managing Director, Lloyds Bank & Bank of Scotland

Jo is Managing Director of Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland, responsible for over 1,000 branches and 10,000 colleagues, and serving over 12 million customers. Jo joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2014 as Planning and Development Director for Lloyds Community Bank, after which she became Managing Director of Business Banking and then Group Customer Services Director. Jo is also Group Ambassador for the Midlands region, a trustee of the Lloyds Bank Foundation and a charity mentor for Women Acting in Today’s Society (WAITS).

“Jo is a leader who inspires those who work with her and for her, due to her ability to consistently demonstrate generosity, compassion and empathy in her interactions. Jo shows a genuine interest in the wellbeing of those she works with, which positively influences the culture of the businesses she leads. She shows these attributes at scale as she engages colleagues and customers with empathy in her leadership capacity, while also being a personal, supportive and approachable leader. Jo role models that showing kindness in leadership creates the most effective form of a leader.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
We all know the saying 'treat others how we want to be treated' and that begins with giving people time, showing kindness and empathy. We often don’t know what someone has going on in their life or how they are feeling. Our actions and tone matter. Taking time to understand those we work with creates trust, confidence, motivation, loyalty and often resilience. This in turn leads to better business outcomes.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
I think it’s about being yourself, interested and creating time for others. Putting yourself in their shoes. People notice how we behave, particularly in more challenging moments. People remember how you made them feel. Start with ‘How are you?’ It’s so simple, and opens the conversation. Invest in the development of others, talking to them about what went well and what didn't, and how to improve. Notice and celebrate moments of kindness from others.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
As the COVID pandemic hit, our colleagues were calling our more vulnerable and older customers just to say ‘Hello, how are you?’. The reactions of many customers who hadn’t spoken to anyone in weeks was amazing. Such a small gesture was a lifeline. Our colleagues supported these customers with
regular chats, arranging local support for food, and financial guidance. I will never forget how much impact these calls had on everyone involved.

Jennifer Romano

Managing Director, Accenture

Jennifer is a Managing Director in Accenture’s consulting practice and a senior leader in the communications and media teams, and broader strategy and consulting teams. She leads the inclusion and diversity initiatives for a community of over 4,000 people, where she is responsible for driving and embedding increasingly inclusive ways of working across teams. Jennifer has built a career founded on experience across business-to-business transformation and growth, Salesforce implementation and more, and she has a far-reaching impact, leading by example in building truly empowered and happy teams.

“Jennifer embodies the principles of individualisation and integrity, striving to meet the unique needs of her teams: leading by example and consistently matching her actions to her words. She leads with empathy, going out of her way to truly understand the strengths, goals and needs of all the people she works with to help them bring out their best. She strives to learn from and support those with vastly different circumstances to her own – always treating people fairly, being a visible advocate for others at work, and taking great pride in developing and nurturing the talent pipeline.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
An open and kind conversation is the starting point to understanding your people, your teams and what motivates everyone to succeed. As a leader, it helps you bring empathy, increase collaboration and drive truly unique and outstanding results within your team.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
I always find the first step in a culture of kindness is to really focus on listening to your people, getting to know them as individuals, and understanding how the dynamics of a team can come together. To embed the culture long term, recognising and rewarding those who embrace kindness as a critical factor in overall business success can show how much the culture is as valued as the numbers or financial results.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
In a professional services business, we are dependent on our people as a key to success more than ever. We’ve all had a time where it’s felt a bit too much, but I can remember multiple times leadership rallying around an individual, listening, caring, taking steps to ensure they felt valued, and truly having open conversations about what is best for the individual. Knowing that the bottom line isn’t the only thing to drive behaviour has kept multiple people in the team coming back to work happy, engaged, and successful.

James Burstall

Chief Executive Officer, Argonon

A film and television producer, James is CEO and Founder of BAFTA, RTS and Emmy award-winning Argonon, one of the largest truly independent global entertainment production groups, with headquarters in London, New York, Los Angeles, Liverpool and Glasgow. Under James’s leadership, Argonon has won 120 awards, and the group now consists of eight world-class independent production companies creating content spanning all genres. James’s first business, Leopard Films, was set up in the 1990s as a rejection of the bullying culture in the entertainment sector.

“James has built a successful business by establishing an inclusive environment where talented individuals from all backgrounds feel welcomed, creating a culture where differences are celebrated and providing a platform where all voices will be heard. Diversity is rooted in the group’s DNA, from the sector-leading launch of Argonon for Everyone in 2016 to the impact of on-screen content such as The Day the Immigrants Left and An Englishman in New York. James’s career mission has been to make a positive difference to the people making – and watching – TV.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I launched my first business in 2001 with the ambition to create a creative and collaborative environment, where talented people were empowered to be their best selves. Kindness is the evidence of emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence is the most important leadership quality. You have to be able to understand people, putting yourself in their shoes to gain a different perspective and, ultimately, to lead effectively with kindness and empathy.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
People are at the heart of any organisation, especially in the creative sector, so building a positive, supportive and inclusive culture is critical. Covid-19 has demonstrated that when you create a collaborative environment, underpinned by open, frequent and often frank communication – both from leadership and listening to the wider team – people pull together so you can not only survive but thrive in challenging times.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Earlier in my career, we took a drama idea to Nick Elliott, an open-hearted and supportive commissioner at ITV. We were known for documentaries and had no track record in drama, a distinct disadvantage in the genre. He loved the idea, backed our capabilities and saw our passion for the project. He took a risk and gave us the break we needed. It paid off; we won a BAFTA-sponsored mental health award and it launched our drama business.

Helen Elsby

Chief Solutions Officer, Heathrow Airport

Helen has a longstanding association with the UK aviation sector, having worked at Heathrow since 2000, first with British Airways, then leading teams in a variety of leadership roles, and now as Director of Procurement at Heathrow. She has overseen capital delivery programmes and developed a highly effective support services team that enables Heathrow’s long-term vision. She is a driven, communicative and people-focused leader who brings vision, direction and structure to her teams,enabling them to thrive and demonstrate their value.

“Helen has demonstrated a resilience that breeds confidence in her leadership team and, more importantly, a passion for ensuring that every possible avenue is explored before a colleague is put at risk. Many meetings start with her stating ‘I’ve been thinking’ – evidence that she will fight to the last to find solutions that will protect the wellbeing and security of her colleagues. In doing so, she has shown a humane approach. She embodies someone who can make tough decisions but will do so in a sensitive manner.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
One of my key values is treating people how I would expect to be treated and therefore I don't believe kindness is a choice, more a core way of behaving that allows people to know you care. Even when messages are difficult, letting people know you care while giving that message enables respect, trust and allows relationships to be built. I believe that it's only through effective relationships, that you can truly lead.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Kindness is about empathy, and empathy is about understanding the person and people you are talking to and working with. Take a small amount of time to get to know your team and understand how they want to be treated, then you can tailor your style to match. The message is the same, the delivery of the message is what will make the difference.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Having been through the most difficult period of time our organisation has ever seen, being kind and caring has never been so important. Many people have shown me true kindness, regardless of my seniority in the organisation or the difficult messages I was giving. This has shown me that no matter what grade or role you are in – everyone needs kindness to work through difficult times and everyone needs support – whatever their circumstances.

Gavin Westmoreland

Head of Multiline Insurance, Barclays

Gavin joined Barclays in 2017 after years at Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. He initially served as a client relationship director in the insurance sector, before heading up the Multiline Insurance team. He is an active participant in the Insurance Supper Club an organisation set up to provide personal, professional, and business development for women in insurance. He also set up the Male Allies initiative, aimed at developing female colleagues across the firm an initiative that has grown into an international network.

“Gavin’s leadership style and commitment to the development of female colleagues, internally and externally, have helped to build a strong team and gain widespread support for the idea that we all have a responsibility for the progression of the people around us. In an industry that has a reputation for being male-dominated and self-centric, this ‘others first’ attitude has created a strong culture internally and helps us to win the support and respect of our clients.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Business is not always kind, but people always have the opportunity to be kind to each other. Leading with kindness is key to creating a culture where colleagues feel that their work is rewarding, and feel motivated to overcome the challenges that they face on a daily basis, because they know that their efforts will be recognised. This has been particularly important during the last 18 months as individuals and teams have faced unprecedented challenges and disruption.

Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Kindness starts with listening and understanding, which ultimately derives from taking an interest in the people that you work with. Always take the time to connect with people, and if it can’t be done face-to-face then pick up the phone. As long as you are dedicating time to individuals then you will build bridges and start to understand other viewpoints.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Joining our Women in Business committee as the first and only male member was an eye-opening experience that gave me a fresh perspective on the day-to-day experiences of women in male-dominated industries. The kindness, welcome and support that I received from the other committee members convinced me that building a strong Male Allies network to provide that same kindness to our female colleagues was important. Since then, our group has become an important part of Barclays’ gender diversity initiatives

Farrah Qureshi

Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Global Diversity Practice

Farrah is a globally recognised expert on diversity and inclusion. Her mission is to transform organisational culture, and she frequently works at board, CEO and leadership levels. With over 25 years of experience, Farrah aligns her outputs to organisational transformation, leadership behaviours and behavioural economics. A pioneer in global diversity consulting, she has created effective programmes for clients in over 100 companies and 150 countries.

“Farrah embodies the 10 principles of kindness as CEO of her business, with her clients and with all those she comes into contact with. Her work involves helping organisations and their leadership teams confront their own biases and their organisational diversity and inclusion challenges. This requires a huge amount of empathy and generosity of spirit as well as courage and resilience to challenge and support people through a change curve of resistance and emotional denial to move through to acceptance and positive action.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness also isn’t about platitudes. It should be genuine. When you are genuine with your team, it helps to inspire a can-do attitude and confidence, it helps your colleagues to reach their full potential. Taking the time to be honest, to help people learn and succeed, often means a direct, constructive conversation, but all this goes hand in hand with being a kind leader. And it’s all about projecting kindness; not just to my team, but clients who might be struggling. Don’t just advocate kindness, practice it, ensure it becomes your natural GPS navigator.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
I would say, add kindnesses to the way you work. Take that extra minute to reach out to colleagues. See the good in your organisation, don’t continuously focus on what might be wrong or broken. If you ignore what is good… you will get less of it. Praise those who do their job well. You will end up getting more of what you appreciate, recognise and reward. Kindness is motivating. When my team are motivated, their motivation lends itself to a winning organisational culture. Ultimately, this means pride in their work, which leads to excellent results and outstanding customer care.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
During the years that GDP has operated, I have been the recipient of full support by a team of highly successful individuals in their own field, in terms of advice, help and kindness itself. Their advice and kind support has been immeasurable. I’m also proud to note that the GDP team show much kindness to each other, are kind with our clients, never judge and endeavour to support in all aspects of our relationship with them.

Eva Omaghomi LVO

Director of Community Engagement to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, Clarence House

At Clarence House, Eva has served as Press Officer, Deputy Communications Secretary to The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and Senior Strategic Adviser at The Prince’s Trust Group, and she will soon take on the new role of Director of Community Engagement. Among Eva’s great achievements has been the establishment of the Commonwealth, international and interfaith media strategies, which have shaped ongoing engagement with minority communities, for which The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are well known.

“Eva’s collaborative, gentle and empathetic leadership style has enabled her to build strong and enduring relationships across the Royal Households for more than a decade. Eva’s calm and kind manner see her managing multiple high-profile events whilst juggling the concerns of numerous stakeholders in different countries with different cultural sensitivities. Eva has been a key adviser to the team on the Commonwealth, bringing her Nigerian-British culture to the working environment. Her contribution over the years has helped to inform and influence those around her regarding the challenges and opportunities facing the diaspora and minority communities in the UK.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I am lucky enough to have studied Anthropology so I always try to engage with empathy and understanding. Taking the time to relate to people on a human level and utilising my own cultural competencies has helped me to get the best out of them.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Be prepared to come out of your comfort and cultural zone as a leader. Take time to get to know people in a way that feels familiar and comfortable to them. As a basic example, not everyone, for cultural or personal reasons, is comfortable to go out for a drink after work. Find out what is comfortable for them and take the time to do it.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
At the end of every movie we are all used to seeing the credits. Even though all those people get paid, it is still important that they are named. Give credit to whom it is due, particularly to more junior staff. It can enhance someone's day, week and self-esteem.

Elizabeth Chalk

Police Inspector, Transformation Directorate, Metropolitan Police Service

Elizabeth was appointed to a specialist team within the Metropolitan Police Service. Her leadership is based on selflessness, compassion, humility and making a positive impact on all those around her. She inspires her team to achieve their goals both professionally and personally, even during an exceptional period of high demand as policing tackled the impact of Covid. Elizabeth always combines the welfare of staff with the successful completion of any given task.

“Elizabeth has a way of demonstrating kindness whilst still leading her team to be the best it can be and achieving a positive outcome. Her calm, selfless and thoughtful style of leadership builds trust. She takes an interest in all staff, individually congratulating them on their work, and enables them to take additional accreditations. To date, over 700 officers have completed qualifications in topical subjects such as autism, mental health and coaching. Elizabeth’s team achieved the highest staff survey results across her department.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
A kind leader puts the best interests of colleagues, their business or organisation and also themselves as priority. A kind leader treats staff with dignity, respect and fairness – providing support according to individual need. When individuals and teams feel valued, appreciated, and are given clear expectations; confidence in their leadership will follow. This, in turn, engenders increased motivation, retention and performance. Demonstrating kindness and authenticity as a leader engenders trust and confidence.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Offering your ear and making time for conversation, can help someone feel valued and appreciated. Sensitively tackling workplace issues also greatly impacts wellbeing and performance. Open dialogue elicits understanding, and deeper knowledge enables compassionate leadership. Everyone carries stressors and challenges – often unseen – and behaviours are often reactions to those challenges. There is a common misnomer: leadership involves control, or being 'in charge'. However, I believe leadership means we are entrusted to take care of the people 'in our charge'.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
In 2020 Sergeant Matt Ratana was tragically killed in Croydon Custody. Whilst this will always be a terrible loss, Matt's passing enabled colleagues to unite through shared grief. A year on, and I have seen a notable shift in mindset; with colleagues no longer feeling they must hide personal challenges and fears, through perceived pressure to keep a stiff upper lip. It is OK to not be OK. What matters is having supportive wrap-around care.

Duncan Robinson

Head of HR & Business Support, Palace for Life Foundation, Official Charity of Crystal Palace FC

As Head of HR & Business Support, Duncan’s role is vital to the organisation on every level. He has worked his way up from Office Administrator to his current role wherein he is responsible for human resources, safeguarding, administration, compliance, quality assurance, EDI and IT. Duncan has spearheaded a company culture that encourages self-improvement, innovation and effective talent management. He has also established safer recruitment processes and championed mental health and wellbeing.

“Duncan’s many roles – confidant, colleague and senior leader – are underpinned by his remarkable humanity. He embodies kindness through exceptional communication skills, saintly levels of patience and unbiased empathy. Duncan’s been the most compassionate figure, never letting his seniority affect the level of care he provides staff at every level. He’s a creative problem-solver, always encouraging innovation and not afraid to try new systems in an industry where people have ‘always done things a certain way’.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness runs through every aspect of leadership. The people you are leading need to know that you genuinely care about them in order to do their best. You can have every other attribute of a good leader but, without kindness, you will not succeed. So much of your job satisfaction is related to the people that you work with and kindness across an organisation creates a happy, thriving workforce.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
If you treat people how you want to be treated – showing empathy and never asking people to do something you wouldn't be prepared to do yourself – a healthy culture will be created. Supporting your colleagues, protecting them when necessary and ensuring clear, direct communication will show a level of respect and make others want to follow your lead.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
A colleague won our Employee of the Term award, for which the prize was £100 of vouchers. Instead of accepting this, he insisted the money go towards our next social event as he was emigrating the next month. This was a totally genuine, selfless act and he didn't want anyone to know about it. This was a reminder of the importance of kindness and how this is the type of person I want in my organisation.

Dr Nayyar Naqvi OBE

Emeritus Consultant Cardiologist, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

For 50 years Nayyar has dedicated his career to the NHS and numerous charities. He has had a transformational effect on the survival rates of people with heart disease, saving thousands of lives. He has built a cardiac department from almost nothing to a team of 100 people, with some of the very best facilities in the UK. Nayyar set up the charity, Dr Naqvi Heart Fund, to dramatically improve heart services in Wigan. He has raised a staggering £3 million to improve patient care. Now in his 70s, Nayyar continues to work tirelessly for the NHS.

“Dr Naqvi has built up a team from being single handed to 100 cardiac specialists (doctors, nurses and allied health care professionals) bonded with the common values of excellence, kindness and hard graft. He has transformed Wigan’s healthcare from being an impoverished entity with an Orwellian reputation to a centre where everyone is proud to work and patients are treated with dignity, benefiting from the best equipment and facilities, funded in part by the millions of pounds raised by the local community donating to the Dr Naqvi’s charity.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness in a leader is a sign not of weakness but of strength. It is a manifestation of self-confidence. It shows consideration and concern for others. Through kindness, a leader can bring out the best in people he/she leads. It inspires them to be creative, brings out their full potential and maximises their productivity. Kind leaders spread happiness among the workforce, and a happy department is a profitable department where people enjoy working. Kind leaders make excellent mentors and role-models.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Be honest, be approachable, be supportive, be courteous and polite. Give praise where praise is due and be appreciative of the work force, recognising their contribution and letting them know you are aware of this. Show respect to all. Deal with everyone with integrity. Never show favouritism. Encourage innovation and new ideas. Give people responsibility to instil and foster their self-confidence. Celebrate everyone’s achievements.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
As a junior doctor, working in district general hospitals, having gained my post-graduate qualifications and experience, I applied repeatedly for senior jobs in teaching hospital. I was not short-listed. Eventually, in desperation, I turned for help to my mentor, a highly respected consultant I had worked for. Without hesitation, he contacted his colleagues in the regional centre. One arranged an interview for a senior post. Fortunately, I was successful. This launched me on to the path to finally become a Consultant Cardiologist. I will never forget his act of kindness.

Dee Murray

Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Menopause Experts

Dee qualified as an advanced psychotherapist and human behaviourist and developed her private practice for 12 years. She has built a reputation for changing the way people think and feel about mental wellbeing and physical health. Dee founded Menopause Experts in 2020, a social enterprise offering free comprehensive education not only to women but clinicians too. In 2021 she launched brand license opportunities enabling women around the world to join the network, providing them with educational workshops and cookery schools.

“Menopause Experts was born from Dee’s idea that all women, regardless of their situation or where they are in the world, should be able to access free education and training to help them cope with and alleviate symptoms of menopause. She has worked hard to make this happen and surrounded herself with a team that shares her passion to make a difference. She’s a wonderful person to work for; despite being very busy she emits an air of peace and is always calm and kind, yet has a clear direction and a great sense of humour.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
One must lead by example, and always treat people the way one would like to be treated. In a world that is often cruel as we battle global warming, pandemics, bigotry, and patriarchy we must always be kind to one another and never assume that someone is coping well, we never really know what they are going through or have been through.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Imagine that each member is part of your family. You may not necessarily like them as a person, but everyone deserves respect if they are doing a job well. We should never let a member of the family feel alienated and often the way to get the best from people is to include them, make them feel valued, and then people work harder and are more loyal to the group/family. Don't place people into the wrong roles, play to their strengths, don't expose their weakness in front of the team.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
During the pandemic, and when lockdowns were in full swing, I had members of my team who were very loyal to me, they could see life was tough, I was also going through a marriage break-up and they offered to work pro-bono. They remain committed to what we do and could see that by pulling together we could create a more robust future. I am very grateful for their kindness and support. I learnt so much about people and loyalty, and we have a much more solid foundation to continue to grow and build upon because of it.

Darshna Patel

Deputy Head of Workforce Planning, Health Education England

Darshna was critical in leading the world’s first Covid vaccination centre at a Hindu temple – an innovative and visionary feat. She was able to connect temple leaders with healthcare specialists at Harness Primary and get the centre up and running within six days. By creating an inclusive, diverse and inspiring environment, the centre engaged a workforce of over 750 staff, volunteers and healthcare professionals to administer over 40,000 vaccines to one of the most vulnerable London boroughs.

“Upon opening in January, the centre vaccinated at a daily rate of approximately 1,600. By June, this increased to 3,200 – at times a leading rate in London. At the heart of this was a leadership team that continually challenged the art of what’s possible. Darshna’s positivity and kindness brought out the same in so many others. Some volunteers were even inspired to change careers into healthcare. We were all able to come together to achieve something unforgettable.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is a key ingredient of collaborative leadership. Collaboration is at the heart of leadership fit for ‘The Social Age’. It helps drive innovation at scale in today’s modern world. Kindness is what allows us to create safe spaces to be honest and vulnerable, to challenge and be challenged, to think differently, speak up, and to support our individual and collective resilience. Kindness fosters trust, which in turn cultivates psychological safety – true collaboration cannot exist without this.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
1. Make a ripple: The tragedy of the pandemic has also created opportunities for countless ripples of kindness – ripples which over time become waves that can shift the cultural tide.

2. Nurture psychological safety: Talk about it, temperature test it, agree values to maintain it. Create micro-havens in your teams and grow kindness from the ground up.

3. Be authentically kind: Sometimes there’s nothing more powerful than being the change you want to see.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
Whilst navigating ethical dilemmas, I found kindness in a conversation with a ward matron. She recognised the challenge to my core values, listened to validate concerns and gave me tools to find answers true to myself. The working dynamics meant we wouldn’t have normally had that conversation; it was of no benefit to her but had huge implications for me. That act of kindness allowed me not to compromise who I am when I was most vulnerable – thank you Clare.

Carol Anderson

Director of Branch Banking, TSB

Carol is TSB’s Branch Banking Director and sits on the Aspiring Women Committee, bringing her passion and experience to encourage and support colleagues to achieve their goals. She is focused on the wellbeing and development of her team of over 2,000 people and on delivering money confidence for TSB customers. Her leadership shines bright across the business. She is particularly noted for confronting difficult issues tactfully and achieving great commercial outcomes collaboratively.

“The little things Carol does embody kindness in leadership. From asking ‘how are you?’ with genuine interest and listening to colleagues, to investigating problems and reaching outcomes. She speaks to colleagues with honesty and transparency, engendering trust. She creates an open and engaging culture within Branch Banking so that colleagues enjoy coming to work. Outside of work, Carol has volunteered as a Samaritan, served on the Board of Tayside Council on Alcohol and was Chair of Council of Mortgage Lenders in Scotland (now UK Finance).”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness is a core skill in leadership that develops trust and better relationships, as it puts others at ease. Being an effective leader is about helping others not just to see the effects of kindness, but how to make it happen and to be authentic. Always starting from a position of kindness leads to more comfortable and supportive conversations, and creates an environment for everyone to flourish and be their best self.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Sharing great stories and examples of kindness is so powerful, as people can relate and it has an emotional impact. It also has an infectious effect that creates momentum and power around what is a wholly human quality and shows you care. All of a sudden, you turn around and it has become the norm, which is when you know it is in your culture. On the back of the suicide of Caroline Flack, I met with a team at work who all felt this deeply and we all led on a Kindness Week, where we did things that not only made us feel better, but made someone else's day.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
During the height of the pandemic, everyone was catapulted into uncertainty and for many, fear. This was not a time for silence but for providing guidance and reassurance. A safe place to be and a place where you could talk, listen or just feel part of a close team. I created alternatives for communication to include everyone and to recognise the various situations colleagues were in and give them a voice and support. This included tools to support wellbeing and internal publications where we celebrated what colleagues or their families were doing on the front line. It felt like we were all in this together.

Becky Tipper

Head of Command & Control, Avon & Somerset Constabulary

Head of Command & Control, Avon & Somerset Constabulary
Becky has worked her way up within the communications department from Control Room Operator to Head of Command and Control. Under Becky’s leadership, the department has seen incredible performance figures, both for the organisation and on a national scale. The department has been awarded honours including the APD National Control Room Award 2019 and Winner of Large In-house Contact Centre of the Year 2018.

“Becky has a positive and proactive approach to managing her team. Being the head of a department that is the first point of contact for an emergency, Becky is extremely professional and calm, and instills these qualities within her staff. Becky proposed the organisation’s Keep Safe scheme, changing the way we hold invaluable information on vulnerable, disabled and mentally-ill people, and enabling staff to more efficiently aid members of the public in crisis.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Kindness cuts across hierarchy and builds trust. Trust creates openness and honesty. When people trust you and understand the vision, they follow you and want to do well. It allows people to be their true selves at work, to share ideas and ask for help and support. It allows for mistakes but also for learning. Kindness builds relationships and a team spirit that is strong and trusting which, when at the heart of an organisation, supports purpose and a shared vision.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Always be kind – you never know what is going on in someone’s life and your smile or kind words can make a real difference. It does not have to be grand or costly gestures. Someone knowing you genuinely care about them is incredibly powerful; a connection of hearts and minds. A team who knows they are valued and their ideas listened to creates a strong, positive environment, encouraging innovation and a real sense of everyone working together.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business
I know the impact kindness had on me during a difficult childhood. It helped shape me as a person so I feel incredibly lucky to work alongside an amazingly kind team. My work family looks out for each other, lending a caring ear after tough incidents and showing kindness and compassion towards those in their time of need. We raise money for those less fortunate, inspiring us to care for others and to be grateful for those in our lives.

Ashton Hewitt

Professional Rugby Player, Dragons Rugby Club

Ashton plays for Newport Dragons Rugby Club in Wales. He heads up a campaign to bring kindness into club rugby, schools and society, tackling racism and microaggressions and educating others on the importance of treating people with respect. As described by Robert Kitson in the Guardian, “The 26-year-old Dragons winger has done more for the wider game over the past nine months than many higher-profile players achieve in their entire careers.” He also completed a degree in criminology and is studying for a masters in business management.

“Ashton and his coach, Patrick Marr, have spearheaded a culture at Dragons Rugby Club, helping to create an inclusive, kind and safe space for people to be themselves. They have also taken on the challenge of spreading the message beyond their own club to change the culture within the game of rugby at large. Ashton has taken the lead on something that is already having a big impact and will change views and behaviours within rugby clubs and schools. He is a real rising star.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
I believe kindness is fundamental to effective leadership in the sense that it lays a foundation for authentic relationships within organisations. Kindness leads to a culture of caring, and when people care about each other as well as the work that they are doing, there is a greater commitment between peers which results in a healthy and productive work environment.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
As a leader, take time and effort to get to know each person that you work with and understand them as individuals, away from the work you do together. This leads by example and should hopefully encourage others within an organisation or team to do the same.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
After receiving racial abuse on social media, I received phone calls and messages from teammates, the Director of Rugby, the Chairman and coaches to see how I was getting on and to offer their support. Following the abuse, all of those listed above wanted to educate themselves around racism and try to get a better understanding of my experiences in order to better support me and others. This is something that I am hugely appreciative of and makes me proud to be a part of Dragons Rugby.

Anisa Subedar

Senior Journalist, BBC News

Anisa is an award-winning presenter, producer and reporter with substantial experience in broadcast journalism. She has spent over a decade working across international, national and local radio, on both live and pre-recorded programmes. With strong editorial judgement and impartiality, she generates stories that represent the under-served parts of the community and country, as well as engages youth audiences at BBC Radio 1 and Newsbeat. Her empathy, understanding and unfailing enthusiasm are remarkable.

“Having started her career later in life due to raising her five boys, one of whom sadly died in infancy, Anisa has dedicated her life to being a shining example of the kindness that she wants to see in the world. She nurtures and supports younger journalists, often spending hours with them to mentor and guide them through their own difficult life choices. Her resilience is inspiring. I have never known someone work so hard and be such a key team player on a consistent basis. The impact of her attitude and approach to her work encourages others to achieve their goals.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
What people will remember most after your work ethic and ability to do your job well is how you were with them. Journalism is a hard enough job so being open to listening, helping those around you and using your role to help elevate colleagues is vital in building a reputation where people want to work with you.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Be flexible in thought and willing to change your mind about decisions you’ve made. They may not always be the right ones and listening to others demonstrates your ability to work in a team. You don’t always know what someone is going through or has experienced. Take your time to get to know your colleagues. Cake. Lots of cake.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
There was an editor I had admired for many years who tweeted that he was looking for new talent when I was starting out. I replied to his tweet and he asked me to come in for a chat. After spending a few hours showing him what I was capable of, he asked me to start in his department the following week. That sort of thing rarely happens now. I credit my entire career to his kindness in taking a chance on me.

Angela Craca

EMEA Internal Audit Director, Invesco UK Ltd

“Angela’s kindness and professionalism see her truly pleased to meet new colleagues and take care of new joiners with an inclusive approach. Angela is consistently looking to implement creative ways to show inclusion and respect for colleagues. These might be virtual coffees or group conversations on non-professional themes, and they show that she is truly passionate about making people comfortable in their job and convincing them, even the most reluctant, that the office should be a social, positive, caring environment where everyone can thrive.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
People tend to trust someone who is kind and what is leadership without trust? A leader who is kind, compassionate, transparent and trustworthy is inspirational and creates a culture of collaboration and innovation, which should be key priorities in today’s working environment. Kindness is an investment that costs nothing and never fails. It can be incredibly effective and powerful. The spill-over effects of acts of kindness, courtesy, and praise multiply fast. When people receive an act of kindness and they work in a kind environment they pay it back by creating a culture of generosity which boosts productivity, efficiency, and lowers staff turnover.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
Lead by example. Respect is earned and cannot be demanded. It’s easy to talk a good talk, but team members will always respect you as a leader if you really walk the talk. When the people you lead see how you are willing to do what you tell them to do, it’s easier for them to get on board with what you say and embrace your view. Take full responsibility. In a crisis, be a courageous leader and take on any backlash for the team. It may not be your fault, but as the leader, the buck stops with you. Those you lead will appreciate that you have got their backs. When it’s time to make tough decisions, focus not just on the message, but on how the message is delivered. Don’t try to be liked, try to be fair, transparent and compassionate. Make kindness a way to be on a daily basis, rather than grand gestures once in a lifetime.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
As a leader, I feel the wellbeing of my team is a priority and the pandemic has been a stress test that confirmed how healthy and strong our team is. Thanks to our consolidated culture of kindness, where active, compassionate listening, continuous support and candid and caring feedback are embedded in our behaviours, my team has come out of the pandemic even stronger than before. Today we have a high-performing team that is engaged and motivated with effective collaboration and a high retention rate.

Andrew Jenkinson

London Office Managing Partner, Reed Smith

Andrew has led Reed Smith’s largest office since 2016, overseeing consecutive years of growth. He has demonstrated his kindness in leadership over the last year through his handling of the London Office response to the pandemic and the significant change it brought to the firm and to personal lives. Over the years, Andrew has (often single-handedly) challenged the status quo and, in doing so, has changed the environment in the legal profession, making it a more accepting place for people from all corners of the world. He has achieved this with kindness.
“Andrew embodies kind leadership through leading by example. He shows genuine compassion and empathy for individuals throughout the firm. He has long been a pioneer of a kind approach to leadership and the results can be seen in the culture of the London Office and his Real Estate team. There is a culture of caring, and Andrew has ensured this has firmly embedded itself. Throughout the pandemic, Andrew has done all he can to listen to the needs of individuals across the firm and, through compassion and kindness, provide practical solutions.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
Without kindness, you will never fully know or understand the issues and concerns impacting individual or collective morale or be able to use the opportunities afforded to you by leadership positions to do what you can to address them. Now, more than ever, people are looking for honest, open and empathetic communication and I think that comes naturally from a place of care and concern for those working with you.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work.
Take the time to listen to people you work with, whatever their role or position in the firm. Be honest with others about things you find difficult and mistakes you have made. I think that people are looking for authenticity and genuineness from leaders, not defensiveness and certainly not a refusal to take responsibility or deal with the consequences of difficult decisions. Ask for help and ideas from those you work with in order to find the best solutions that will make work a happier and kinder place. If you don't have the right or the best answer, your colleagues will and there is no shame in seeking that out.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
For me, it's when people in the business help others in real personal need, be that the terrible loss of a loved one, a physical or mental health issue or something more intangible. I have benefitted immensely from that in my own life and I am hugely grateful for that. It transforms the way you see work and the people you work with. There is a huge responsibility on all of us to look after our colleagues in a pastoral sense and it makes the workplace a more nourishing and safer place.

Anastasia Klein

Head of Retail & Partner, Maples Teesdale

Anastasia is Head of Retail and Co-Head of Diversity and Inclusion at commercial real estate law firm Maples Teesdale. Anastasia is responsible for designing the firm’s diversity and inclusion ambitions, focused on raising the profile of women in the real estate and legal professions. She is also a committee member at REWomen, a career highlight recognising her work in promoting diversity across the built environment. Anastasia is a natural leader who encourages the need to balance career and family life, thus showing kindness in each leadership action.
“Ana makes us feel human through her constructive, kind and compassionate leadership approach. During the pandemic, she has been fundamental to the cohesion of not only her team but the firm as a whole, and she has helped progress the REWomen agenda to support women dealing with the side-effects of lockdown and the work-from-home environment. Ana recognises the priorities and needs of others and proactively seeks to ensure that people feel supported and valued. The impact? High team morale, low staff turnover and high productivity.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
To me, the key requirements of kindness in leadership are being available, listening, empathy and proactive support. I think that if you offer leadership that includes all of these elements, you will be able to lead effectively, knowing what matters to your team and relating to their concerns and needs. The past 18 months has shown me more than ever that our business is our team, and to effectively lead, we have to be more open to discussions about personal life than ever before.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
My top tip is to treat people as you would like to be treated. Try to understand that people have different needs and priorities and that we all want to be treated fairly and with compassion. I firmly believe that kindness is not a weakness, it is a strength. It helps build strong and enduring relationships, which benefit not only our business but also the service we provide to our clients. I think it is very important to let people know when they are doing a great job, too often we assume people know how much we appreciate them.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
For me, it is easy to be kind when things are going well and less easy when there are challenges. I remember many years ago, when I was working in a different industry, making a mistake that I worried about all weekend. When I came back to the office on Monday morning and told my supervisor, he was very calm and put everything into perspective. This calm, kind, considered approach has stayed with me for my whole career. It was also very effective, as I never made the same mistake again!

Alan Jope

Chief Executive Officer, Unilever

Alan’s distinguished career has seen him lead business operations all over the world. Since becoming CEO of Unilever, he has revitalised the company’s vision to be the global leader in
sustainable business,steered the business through a pandemic and opened up strategic options by taking on the task of unifying the company’s 90 – year – old legal structure. He has put purpose at the heart of the company’s mission, helping to explain why Unilever is not only one of the world’s most admired companies but also one of the most sought-after employers.

“Alan is an authentic and inclusive leader with an intrinsic ability to see the best in people. His
purpose to ‘lead the adventure’ speaks to his positive, can-do mentality; he is a giver of energy, whose optimistic approach rubs off on all those around him. He combines these attributes with a natural modesty and humility, qualities which belie his resilience and other huge strengths and capabilities. He is liked and respected in equal measure. No one leaves a meeting with Alan without feeling better about themselves and the work they are doing. It’s a rare gift.”

How is kindness relevant to effective leadership?
People will always remember how you made them feel much more than what you may have said. Kindness is just a manifestation of basic respect for other people. I’ve found that treating the people I have the privilege to lead with kindness, respect and common decency, significantly increases their willingness to go the extra mile to deliver great results. Kindness must not be at the expense of performance… just the opposite; it can be a powerful, cultural accelerator of performance.
Please share any tips on creating a culture of kindness at work
We define Unilever’s culture as human, purposeful and accountable. This means that we want people to be able to be themselves at work, without judgement or prejudice; realise their purpose when working with us; and feel empowered to take ownership of, and pride in, the work they do. We want to ensure a culture of fairness that recognises a job well done… or confronts underperformance in a respectful but firm way.
Please share an example of when kindness made a significant and lasting impact on you or your business.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen extraordinary acts of compassion across Unilever. Colleagues not only looked out for the welfare of each other, but also to support wider community efforts. Teams worked around the clock to adapt production lines and scale-up volumes of essential hygiene products; to support vulnerable communities with donations; and to amplify our brands’ behavioural change campaigns around, for example, proper hand-washing. The camaraderie of working together, with kindness, in challenging times has only brought out the best in our people and strengthened our business. Our annual Heroes Awards recognise individuals who go above and beyond their day job to make a lasting positive business and social impact.