Our Listees 2023
Yiran Coco Xu
Involved with welfare organisations from a young age, Coco founded non-profit Food Bank & Local Communities in 2020 to offer aid to her school’s staff members who suffered pay cuts due to COVID-19. She began by donating basic supplies – food, water and face masks – and then extended her efforts to help pet owners in her community, soon providing monthly donations to over 700 families in total. Authentic, consistent and trustworthy, Coco shows equal respect towards everyone she interacts with – from her teammates and mentors to school managing directors and government liaisons.
“Coco’s relationships with others have made her team successful. She never looks for flaws but instead tries to utilise the best characteristics of the group. Her teammates feel empowered by the opportunities she provides, and everyone feels like they are in the right place. She uses clear communication to build trust by speaking about exactly what she intends to do, how she intends to do it, and what the outcome could possibly be… Coco is the glue of her organisation.”
This was the feeling I felt when my parent’s investment project failed and they no longer had enough money to support me. Yet I was not sent back to China … why? Because I was supported by my school. They were kind enough to lend me a hand when I needed help. Covid-19 caused many staff with the lowest wages on campus to lose their jobs and their homes. When I first founded Food Bank & Local Communities in 2020, I would have never imagined for the organisation to go beyond just donating to them. At the end of 2022, when it came to a gradual end, things got back to ‘normal’ - but what is ‘normal’? People without homes, wearing scraps of fabrics, eating close to nothing, dying of thirst… etc… These were little things I never noticed before - I never knew this was the life of the security guard, who was always smiling and welcoming me into the school gates. I changed, and I wanted to continue this change.
Ethnically and legally, I am fully Chinese - my ancestors are all Chinese and my passport is from China - yet realistically, I am not at all. At the age of 7, my mother immigrated us to Thailand. It should be known that she only spoke Chinese and she did not know anyone in Thailand … to conclude, she was the Wonder Woman who changed my life and made me: “A Child of the World”.
This Child of the World would never have even thought about helping others 2 years ago, because she, herself, was too humiliated. Her ego was long beaten down by those that judged her when she could not understand the language or the culture. So it came to a surprise for her when she realised there were so many just like her or ones in an even worse condition than her, that reached out. As funding came flooding in to help her set up the organisation of Food Bank LC, trying to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, her dream started to become more and more realistic…
It was an honour to be helped. Now, it’s my turn to help. I want to be the change I want to see in this world.
At Insignia Ventures Partners, a Southeast Asian early-to-growth stage venture capital firm, Yinglan leads a team that has partnered with more than 80 companies active across Southeast Asia and the globe, including technology market leaders GoTo, Appier, Carro and Ajaib. With a leadership style that is collaborative, results-driven, agile, future-oriented and trustworthy – with both clients and employees – he prioritises consistent partnership with entrepreneurs as well as a company culture of connectivity and empowerment that enables employees to be their best together.
“Yinglan has always made it a point to recognise achievements and growth in his organisation, personally citing employees and awarding them appropriately. He also leads with an ethos of cross-functional collaboration and expects this kind of work approach to come naturally to everyone on his team… Yinglan places value not just in the work-related goals of people in their roles but, first and foremost, in how their work contributes to their overall personal development and life goals.”
– James Soh, Executive Director, National Youth Achievement Award Council
Wangchuk Rapten Lama
Growing up in a village facing many difficulties, Wangchuk has always strived to meet the needs of those around him. He went on to become a paramedic, serving in medical camps, rescue missions and food and emergency supply missions to hundreds of communities in rural Nepal; and later founded Kyimolung Foundation Nepal, a non-profit with a vision to provide education, healthcare services, and food security and assistance during disasters, while promoting environmental and spiritual awareness. To date, the foundation has benefited more than 80,000 individuals.
“Wangchuk is a very empathetic person; whenever he sees or meets people from deprived homes or regions, he tries to know their story and is always looking for ways and means to offer support. As a head of an organisation, he receives hundreds of requests for support. He tries his best, sometimes way beyond his capabilities because of the limitations of funds and time, making sure that those with the greatest need are served first.”
Kindness is highly relevant to effective leadership and is more specially in my field of social work & running a not-profit organization. As a leader, you are always looked up to and are expected to guide your team members to achieve your organizational goals. Therefore, to be an effective leader, one must practice kindness more often as it is sure to create a ripple effect. Together, it will also build trust, respect, well-being, motivation & engagement, loyalty, unity, and ultimately success.
I was educated and raised at a monastery in Kathmandu since 1997 with food, accommodations, and medical care, all free of cost. There are hundreds of others just like me from the remote rural villages of Nepal who received the same care. And I feel blessed to have grown under his guidance and blessings. As a simple buddhist monk and medic now, my path in life is to follow my guru's teachings and serve his purpose of helping and benefitting others. He says, "No matter how learned you are or whatever skill set you possess, it should always be used for the benefit of others." This has remained deep in my heart and has basically become a mantra of my life.
Thus, the establishment of Kyimolung Foundation Nepal, its services in the remote communities and the continuation of our philanthropic programs.
Social entrepreneur Vannary is passionate about her cultural heritage and ecotourism, and leads by example in a number of inspiring roles. As Founder of Lotus Silk Enterprise and Silk House Museum, she supports women weavers and promotes the upcycling of vintage fabrics and the production of natural, sustainable fibre textiles. She also heads up two eco-friendly, sustainability-focused holiday resorts, as well as the Cambodia Hotel Association Kampot Chapter, where she advocates for sustainable ecotourism and social responsibility.
“Vannary’s positive leadership style recognises obstacles and challenges as opportunities to thrive, and she encourages her team to think creatively to find solutions. She empowers them to innovate and lead. There is no backstage crew or front-stage crew; everyone is treated equally and gets recognised. She shows her appreciation to her team by praising them when they achieve their goals.”
Firstly, lead by example and foster a positive mindset at work. When faced with problem-solving, encourage yourself and your team to look at the bright side and learn from challenges. By demonstrating this approach, you can inspire your team members to adopt a similar perspective and contribute to a positive work environment.
Secondly, create a safe space for dreaming, innovation, and nurturing creativity. Empower your team members to take the lead and explore new ideas. Assure them of your support when they encounter obstacles, fostering a sense of ownership and allowing innovation to thrive within the team.
Thirdly, prioritize treating each team member with equal respect and fairness. Foster open communication and create an atmosphere where mistakes can be openly discussed, with a focus on continuous improvement. This promotes a culture of trust and collaboration, where everyone feels valued and heard.
Lastly, make it a point to recognize and praise the accomplishments of your team members. Celebrating their successes not only boosts morale but also reinforces the value they bring to the team. By acknowledging their achievements, you inspire and motivate them to continue excelling.
In summary, by leading with a positive mindset, providing a safe space for innovation, fostering open communication, and actively recognizing and praising your team members' achievements, you can cultivate a culture of kindness within your team and create a positive and productive work environment.
Truong Thi Thu Trang
With a master’s degree in Economic Management and Social Sciences and a passion for empowering entrepreneurs and startups, Trang works as a trainer at IECD Vietnam, an NGO supporting human, economic and social development. Here, she helps develop micro and small entrepreneurs, supporting them on their business journeys. Authentic, empathetic and generous in sharing her expertise and network, Trang actively encourages others both within her team and outside the workplace, where she volunteers her time as a mentor to women entrepreneurs.
“Mrs Trang respects others and has a huge sense of empathy. She is always willing to share her knowledge and network if needed to support others. Mrs Trang understands what teamwork really means, enhancing and valuing each personality in the group. This creates a positive environment for every individual and helps them work towards the necessary objectives. Her flexibility invites and encourages each individual to actively work together to achieve the goals.”
For seven years Ms Thuy regularly attended our workshops. She wanted to open a store but lacked the confidence to embark on the adventure. Thanks to the knowledge she was able to acquire and the kind support of the trainers, she finally realised her dream.
And beyond expectations, the profit of her company allowed her to send her daughter to study at university in Thailand.
Today, Thuy regularly provides assistance to the activities offered by the IECD. She devotes time to share the experience she has been able to acquire and in turn retransmit it with kindness.
It thus helps to give confidence and enable the development of other women small businesses.
Through her exceptional leadership at Selwyn District Council, Trish has cultivated an atmosphere of innovation and instilled a transformative cultural shift. Her generous, collaborative and visionary approach has empowered her team to embrace emerging technologies and initiatives that not only propelled the council forward but also provided real benefits for the community and inspired positive change within the industry as a whole. Always encouraging the growth of people, Trish also provides ongoing coaching and development opportunities for her staff.
“Trish’s leadership sets an exemplary standard of compassion and dedication. Her impact reaches her team, the wider organisation, and even further afield, creating a ripple effect of positivity and growth. Through her inclusive and supportive approach, she leaves a lasting legacy of empowerment and connection. The team, the organisation, and the community at large are fortunate to have Trish’s exceptional care and leadership.”
The Digital team have experienced significant growth over the last two years, during a time that New Zealand has experienced a labour shortage. During this time, Trish was able to attract skilled talent and grow the team from two team leaders and eighteen staff, to a team of fourty-two roles and 7 workstream leaders, across the digital disciplines. In addition to this, the team now has very low turnover, and Trish has been able to support several of her team in their growth and development, resulting in new opportunities in other roles.
Another area Trish has worked hard to improve is the overall engagement score of her digital services team, as part of the Council’s annual staff survey. Since joining two years ago, she has increased overall engagement by 13%, one of the highest in the Council and improved in three key areas – Collaboration and Teamwork; Empowerment; and Career and Development. The team feel connected, valued and want to perform.
Trish has lead the team through several key initiatives aligned to the Selwyn values of “Being Brave, Think Differently” and “Make it happen for Selwyn”. A recent example of this was the development of a “Tickathon”, (similar principal to a hackathon) designed to break down the high volume of job tickets. Trish worked with key vendors to obtain prizes and sponsorship, meaning the day could be more exciting for her team. For many, this was a new experience but through Trish’s leadership, over 300 tickets were completed, demonstrating her ability to lead bravely, and command trust and commitment from her team.
As with any growing organisation and team, connectivity can be challenging. To keep the team connected, “Keep Connected” was introduced every Friday afternoon. Everyone stops work and dials in to a Teams call. The call often includes a game or a quiz, a lot of laughter and is wrapped-up by Trish thanking the team for their work. This ensures that across her team, the team remains united, and gives them the chance to interact in an informal way.
As a leader Trish supports, encourages and looks after her team. If you ask any of them, they will tell you that she cares for them as an individual, hears their concerns and works with them to find solutions. Trish wears two hats in this organisation ensuring she has her team and Council and the Selwyn community front of mind. This persistent effort always ensures every stakeholder benefits. Trish believes in being kind, not “nice”, but real, honest and genuinely caring.
Syahmi Zulfadhli bin Adbullah
Mims Sidi co-founded Tebalik Plastik to reduce the disposal of single-use plastics by upcycling them into new products. In addition, he serves as Curator of GSCBSB, where, within just six months of his leadership, the organisation created 57 collaborations, engaged with over 1,800 event participants, and collected and distributed BND $23,784 worth of essential items for frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mims’s encouraging and selfless leadership has directly impacted individual team members, the success of GSCBSB’s initiatives and the community at large.
“Mims guides and encourages us to use our strengths to live life according to our values whilst giving us opportunities to work on our weaknesses. He also celebrates you for every single job well done. He never forgets to thank every contributing person and always ensures credit is given where it is due. Lastly he puts himself in others’ shoes when making decisions. Whether it is organising a skills workshop for youths or planning a get-together, he thinks of every person and goes miles to ensure their needs are met and they feel welcomed.”
2. Recognise and Appreciate Contributions - Regularly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and contributions of your team members. Validate their hard proud work with simple gestures like saying "thank you" or sending a note of appreciation.
3. Provide Support and Resource - Ensuring that the team have the resources and support they need to excel in their roles.
Stella Petrou Concha
Stella is the inspiring driving force behind the fast-growing Reo Group, whose mission is to elevate human potential – by working with executives to deliver value for their organisations through leadership, strategy and vision. She has also led a number of professional consortia over the last 12 years, and she has served as the chair of a platinum-level CFO peer advisory board at 2020 Exchange since 2016, and more recently with a new venture with HiveQ. Stella has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top Ten Women Entrepreneurs by My Entrepreneur Magazine.
“Stella is generous on so many levels. These include her willingness to spend time with so many individuals from so many different backgrounds, to make them more effective as leaders. Further to this, her deep thinking and care that she imparts on all those she crosses paths with is evident. She is creating a movement on global best-practice leadership, built on the foundations of mindfulness and kindness. The impact she is creating on our leaders of tomorrow today is second to none.”
This has created a significant impact on our business as our focus is on supporting our people to practice self-kindness and self-mastery. The results are clear. Year-on-year growth, high productivity in our people, high morale and a sense of purpose, a connected workforce with less than 10% turnover. This has extrapolated into our customer experience where Reo Group has won the National Recruitment Agency Award in Australia as the highest-ranked NPS performer for candidate and Client combined customer experience (Recruiter Insider) for three years running.
Having risen swiftly to a high-level leadership position in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the young and dynamic Vatey has proven herself highly adept in both a technical and leadership capacity, effectively overseeing multiple important projects. Continually sharpening her skills with additional training programmes, she is an excellent problem solver and equally respected for her kind and supportive engagement with all levels of staff, and her honest and effective communication that enables a safe and family-like environment in the workplace.
“Vatey takes time to identify problems before finding the exact suitable solution. She never leaves any of her staff behind and values everyone’s input. She teaches her staff to always train each other and share knowledge. With both subordinates and her superiors, she knows how to coordinate and deliver her messaging with kindness. She leads many different types of logistics workshops within the ministry and has earned admiration and appreciation from other leaders.”
Puneet Singh Singhal
Puneet, a dedicated social changemaker, strives to revolutionise inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) initiatives worldwide. Drawing from his background, which was shaped by domestic and learning challenges, he advocates passionately for marginalised individuals, challenging assumptions about abilities and empowering those from economically weaker backgrounds, the disabled community and other underrepresented voices. His unconventional, empathy-driven approach redefines kindness in business and amplifies his organisation’s impact on social change.
“Drawing from his own experiences of marginalisation, Puneet cultivates an inclusive and equitable environment that challenges traditional power dynamics. He empowers his team to embrace radical ideas, defying assumptions about marginalised communities. Puneet’s approach not only fosters a compassionate culture, but also drives tangible change and business growth. By championing the voices of the underrepresented, he creates a sense of belonging that fuels creativity and productivity.”
Kindness in leadership is not about being nice for the sake of appearances; it's about embodying a deep-seated sense of compassion that informs your actions, decisions, and interactions. I have experienced the profound impact of kindness in my personal journey as a person with invisible disabilities, a survivor of domestic violence, and a community advocate. From this perspective, I've cultivated a leadership approach grounded in self-love, transmitting love to others, and challenging societal norms that restrict our collective ability to flourish.
In my spiritual explorations, I see myself as a conduit for divine love and grace. My leadership reflects this understanding, transforming traditional leadership dynamics into ones imbued with service, gratitude, and humility.
Kindness, in my view, is the capacity to extend compassion and understanding even when it's difficult, inconvenient, or uncomfortable. In those challenging moments, the true essence of kindness, and therefore leadership, is revealed. As the poignant saying goes: "A life of kindness means being kind when it's neither convenient nor easy—in fact, sometimes it might be terribly hard and tremendously inconvenient. That's when it matters most. That's when the need is greatest and transformation dances at the edge of possibility. That's the time to take a deep breath and invite kindness to dance." In such moments, the transformative power of kindness is felt most acutely, enabling us to shift paradigms and create an impact that resonates far beyond our immediate circle. This, to me, is the true essence of kind and effective leadership.
Professor Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat
Jimmy Choo is a luxury fashion brand that has become synonymous with worldwide prestige, quality and elegance, coveted by countless celebrities and winning numerous awards. As Founder of his eponymous brand, Jimmy is known not only for his talent and creativity but also for his kindness and generosity – as a leader who prioritises an inclusive and supportive workplace culture, as a mentor to emerging designers and entrepreneurs, and as a philanthropist working with charities including The Prince’s Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“Jimmy is known not only for his talent and creativity but also for his kindness and generosity as a leader. He has always been committed to using his success to help others, particularly those less fortunate. He has supported numerous charities over the years, including The Prince’s Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He has also provided support to emerging designers and entrepreneurs, mentoring and advising them along the way. His kindness and commitment to giving back have made him a role model for many, and embody the best qualities of leadership.”
Coming from a humble background and facing so many challenges to become what I am today, I have learned the importance of respect and compassion. Kindness is key in my leadership style. I believe that by treating others with kindness, respect, and humility, we can create an environment where everyone feels respected, motivated, and empowered to give their best.
Kindness allows me to form sincere connections with my team, clients, and everyone I interact with. It helps me understand them better and encourage them. With kindness, I develop mutual trust and with this, we support one another.
I also believe that if we face any problem we might have with kindness and a positive mindset, we can inspire others to do the same and create a ripple effect of compassion and change.
In conclusion, kindness is not a sign of weakness in leadership; it is a strength. It unites people. With kindness, we can create a world where people respect one another and we can all live in peace and harmony.
Encourage Open Communication among team members. Create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas, opinions, and concerns with no fear of judgment or retribution. Actively listen to them with understanding.
Promote teamwork: Encourage employees to work together, share knowledge, and support one another.
Recognize and Appreciate Efforts: Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and contributions of your team members.
Encourage Acts of Kindness: Inspire your team members to practice kindness towards one another.
Remember, creating a culture of kindness is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and commitment.
During the early stages of my fashion career, I faced numerous challenges and problems. When I first started my label Jimmy Choo in 1986, I faced a lot of challenges and life was extremely hard. When I first participated in the London Fashion Week in 1988, I encountered a famous stylist, Kate Phelan from Vogue. Instead of being dismissive or distant, she approached me with genuine kindness and offered words of encouragement and support. Not only that, she then proceeded to feature in Vogue magazine for the August issue of the year 1988.
Their kind gesture not only boosted my confidence but also opened doors to invaluable opportunities. This act of kindness had a profound and lasting impact propelling me towards success I may not have achieved otherwise.
This experience taught me the power of kindness and its huge effect. It inspired me to adopt a leadership style rooted in kindness. I recognized that by being kind to others, I could positively influence their lives and create a work culture where everyone feels valued and empowered.
Additionally, kindness creates lasting relationships built on trust and mutual respect. Kindness is a powerful force that has the ability to transform lives, build lasting relationships, and contribute to the success of individuals and businesses alike.
Professor Dato’ Elizabeth Lee
Under Elizabeth’s 30 years of leadership, SEG – one of Malaysia’s most prominent education establishments – has grown from just one institution into a dynamic group of 20 entities. An educator at heart, she is the driving force behind the Group’s mission to provide a holistic and inclusive learning environment for all as well as its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Her kindness reaches beyond the workplace, where she fights passionately for various humanitarian causes and serves as the sole Asian representative on the Going Global Partners Group.
“Elizabeth’s kindness is far-reaching, and she has passionately fought for various causes. She is currently on the Board of Trustees of MERCY Malaysia (Medical Relief Society Malaysia), an internationally renowned humanitarian organisation where she provides advice and support on widening access to quality education for those in need. She is also the sole Asian representative on the Going Global Partners Group under the British Council, and is alternate Chair of the 30% Club, a movement to increase women’s participation in public company boards.”
First, leaders should set an example, walk the talk and model kindness by treating employees with respect and empathy. It is important to encourage open communication by allowing employees to share ideas and voice concerns without fear of judgment or retaliation. Recognising and celebrating small achievements help foster positivity and boost morale. Providing opportunities for volunteering or involvement and leadership also helps promote a sense of purpose and ownership. As this may not come naturally in the workplace, we may need to provide training on developing empathy, humility and active listening skills. Look to appreciate, celebrate and credit. Finally, we must be sincere to seek feedback regularly and improve the organisation’s commitment to fostering a culture where kindness is not just a policy but a way of life.
With an extensive career and academic history that includes multiple prestigious scholarships, Prerna now heads up a leadership institution intent on developing ethical public sector leaders, where her courageous, visionary and generous leadership has cultivated a collaborative work culture, and a sense of belonging. Prerna’s work has directly impacted 3 million individuals and enterprises, earning her numerous awards, including Oxford University’s Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Award – making her the first female MBA student to receive this accolade.
“Prerna is a courageous, visionary leader who always puts the welfare of others before personal gain. Her choice to work in social enterprises supporting rural youth in India or low-income farmers in Ethiopia is a testimony to this. She creates strategic innovative initiatives that enable business growth and facilitates a collaborative culture, empowering employees to respect each other and derive purpose in their workplaces, thereby developing a strong sense of belonging.”
By developing kindness as a critical skill, leaders can facilitate a strong formidable culture founded on collaboration, trust and empowerment. Such a work culture not only leads to higher employee satisfaction, but also creates a healthier, more productive, and more sustainable work environment, leading to long term success and positive brand reputation.
Within 18 months of joining LSEG, Pooja built from scratch a team of five to design, develop and deploy a number of leadership and talent programmes, including the group’s first flagship New People Leader Development Curriculum and Compass, an exploratory programme on leadership that now boasts over 1,000 active participants. Pooja’s empathetic, consistent and empowering leadership approach has enabled this award-winning team to make a direct positive impact on company culture and performance. In addition, she leads the DEI agenda for Asia Pacific.
“In the last 18 months, one of us was grieving the loss of a husband, one of us was made redundant, one became a dad, one shifted house, and one was based in Sri Lanka and facing unprecedented economic turmoil. We still were arguably the best performing team in the Talent function in 2023, receiving multiple internal awards. This was because Pooja kept us connected, fostered an environment of high psychological safety by being mindful and empathetic of our situations, generous in giving each of us space and inspiring resilience, being consistent and empowering in her leadership approach.”
As a woman with disabilities, PhouthAlee has overcome personal obstacles to become an inspiring leader making a significant impact in her community. Her environmentally friendly Laotian handicraft business, XonPhao, creates job opportunities for people living with disabilities, helping them enjoy stable livelihoods and a supportive, inclusive culture, while preserving the unique hand-made cloth and cultural heritage of the Lao ethnic group. PhouthAlee’s leadership style demonstrates how kindness can positively impact organisations, communities and the environment.
“PhouthAlee prioritises the wellbeing of her team and empowers those who are often marginalised in society. She is a woman with disabilities herself, but rather than letting it defeat her, she has empowered others with disabilities and created a culture of inclusivity, support, and empathy. She understands the struggles of people with disabilities and has created a safe space for them to thrive. Additionally, her commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of the Lao ethnic group has helped to promote a sense of pride and identity within the team.”
. Never leave team to work alone
. honest to share and train team
. Use a nice communicated to team
. Help team when we have any problem on work
. To understand and empathize with the physical defects of each team, it is difficult to help solve their problems to the point.
Help to share and exchange experience with each other, making the work less error, the work to the standard and according to the set goal
Phearong’s outstanding 10-year track record as an advocate for women’s rights and youth empowerment secured her recent appointment as Executive Director of Banteay Srei, a women’s empowerment NGO. She is also Co-founder of the Joint of Youth Cambodia campaign to promote gender equality and access to professional development opportunities, and in 2012, she was appointed as a Young Champion by UN Women Cambodia for increasing youth participation in initiatives to end gender-based violence. Encouraging, kind and trustworthy, she creates a positive and impactful atmosphere at work.
“When Banteay Srei requested I join the Advisory Board, knowing that Phearong was Executive Director I said yes without hesitation. Being an advisory board member has given me a chance to take a closer look at Phearong’s leadership in action. She is younger than the majority of her team, but she shows respect to everyone and earns respect back. Her team appreciates how she listens to them and values their opinions, how she always encourages them to think creatively when responding to problems, and how she creates an open and positive atmosphere at work.”
AT, Strategic Program Advisor, USAID’s Digital Asia Accelerator, DAI Global LLC
• Leaders should prioritize the creation of a supporting system for the vulnerable group in the workplace.
• Leaders should treat everyone equally and provide equal opportunity for all, including continuing to provide mentoring and coaching to the team.
• I was fortunate enough to have worked with my previous organizations where my ex-leaders provided me the opportunity to unlock my full potential to grow through on-the-job coaching, mentoring, and learning opportunities. Those opportunities and environment enabled me to become one of the young feminist leaders who work with a women-led organization called Banteay Srei.
Intent on empowering women in technology and creating an inclusive culture of growth, Myo serves as a volunteer advisor for Women in AI (Myanmar), as Founder of Myanmar Data Tech and as leader of the Myanmar Women in Tech project, where she trains women in data analytics and software engineering. Her dedicated leadership approach fosters collaboration, mentorship and knowledge exchange, and also makes business sense, driving innovation and productivity. Myo has been recognised as an ASEAN Science Diplomat and an ASEAN Science and Technology Fellow.
“Dr Myo exemplifies true leadership by creating an environment where individuals are supported, encouraged, and given the opportunity to grow and succeed. Her initiatives, such as Women in AI (Myanmar) and Myanmar Data Tech, create an inclusive culture of growth. Leading the Myanmar Women in Tech project, she trains women in data analytics and software engineering. Her commitment to empowering others demonstrates how kindness in leadership can create a lasting impact on individuals, team culture, and business success.”
What made me a significant difference was being honest and kind. Instead of acting like the typical boss in Myanmar, I showed that I cared about them. I strongly believed in treating everyone fairly, regardless of their job title. I believe that everyone deserved the same level of respect. My genuine concern for them was particularly evident when I saw how far some of them had traveled to work in the city, leaving their homes behind. I stood up for what they needed, even if it meant having disagreements with people in charge. I provided them with the support they required, and I did it out of genuine care, not just because I had to.
This caring approach helped us become a strong team. It strengthened our relationships and made communication easy among us. We collaborated effectively, even though we had our differences. It was akin to a group of musicians playing in harmony, all following the same melody.
Ultimately, my unique leadership style taught me a valuable lesson: kindness is crucial for breaking down barriers, positively surprising people, and establishing strong connections. It highlights that being tough is not the only way to be a good leader. Sometimes, demonstrating understanding, care, and kindness is the most powerful approach to leadership.
Murshidul Alam Bhuiyan
With the goal of creating a global message of hope and an empathetic, inclusive and diverse community of interaction through common experiences, Murshidul established Team Bertho. This platform gathers and disseminates the wisdom and anecdotes of individuals across the globe, tackling societal challenges by using storytelling through visual, audio, reading and kinaesthetic means. To date, the platform has reached 450,000 people across 79 countries, and Murshidul has received numerous distinctions for his work, including The Diana Award and the UNICEF Meena Media Award.
“All of Murshidul’s projects seek to highlight the good among humans and work to inspire the youth to dream of a world full of possibilities to achieve their goals… Under his direction, Team Bertho forges connections between citizens of every nation and continent, serving as the platform for change, development, inspiration, and involvement by harvesting gems of insight from around the globe.”
Miranda is a highly accomplished hospital CEO who has dedicated her 28-year career to revolutionising healthcare delivery. With an unwavering commitment to developing a culture of care and inclusivity throughout the organisation, and to putting the needs of patients first, she spearheads operations and marketing projects that have significantly improved healthcare access. Her collaborative, transformative leadership style has boosted employee morale, increased innovation, secured the organisation’s socially responsible reputation and impacted the greater community.
“Miranda has made significant changes within the organisation to create a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and kindness. Her leadership style has resulted in a boost in employee morale, an increase in innovation, and a reputation for social responsibility. Miranda has also prioritised ethical leadership, which has helped Ara Damansara Medical Centre to gain its position as one of the preferred healthcare providers in industry.”
As General Manager of The Eton Academy, Meimei is committed to promoting a healthy learning environment for children and instilling a lifelong love of learning – that goes beyond exam success – by developing engaging and fun curricula. Under her stewardship, the academy has grown significantly, and in addition to her day-to-day activities, her actions in supporting her employees, contributing to various causes, nurturing a respectful culture and engaging in sustainable programmes demonstrate her profound dedication to kindness and social impact.
“Mei’s leadership exemplifies kindness as she remains authentic and selflessly devotes her time to others. She sets a powerful example by treating everyone with respect and fairness, regardless of their age or background. Actively fostering a positive work culture, she consistently displays her commitment to uplifting others. Mei’s strength lies in her ability to embrace diverse perspectives with an open mind, effectively connecting with everyone around her.”
Kindness in leadership is an ultimate strength that transforms a group of individuals into a unified team, a team that stands together, supports each other, and collectively strives towards common goals.
I firmly believe that "A kind leader is the cornerstone of an inspiring organisational culture". In practising kindness, leaders are respected and inspire a domino effect of kindness within the entire organisation. In recognising humanity and embracing it, not only do we become better leaders, but we also contribute to a more empathetic, harmonious world.
As time pass, assets depreciate, technology evolve, and only the many lives that we have uplifted that will be lasting. I believe this is how we leave our legacy. This shapes my perspective on leadership – a perspective built not upon hierarchy but upon the pedestal of kindness and empathy.
Mark Anthony Salvador Angeles
Marky is an exemplary leader who has made significant contributions to his organisation, industry and society, transforming countless lives by empowering aspiring entrepreneurs and championing Sustainable Development Goals. His inclusive and compassionate approach to leadership has fostered a culture of collaboration, trust and innovation within his team, and his unwavering commitment to kindness extends beyond the workplace – as evidenced through his Back-to-School projects, which provided educational opportunities to impoverished students during the pandemic.
“Marky Angeles embodies kindness in leadership through his empathetic approach, selfless actions, and unwavering commitment to uplifting others. His leadership style has created a culture of compassion, collaboration, and inclusivity within his team, fostering a sense of belonging and unity. By prioritising the well-being and growth of his team members, Marky has nurtured a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best.”
Driven by the conviction that kindness plays a pivotal role in effective leadership, Mahzabin is a compassionate leader with an unwavering dedication to improving people’s lives, especially Bangladesh’s underserved. She has worked tirelessly to sustain Bangladesh Cancer Aid Trust, establishing the country’s first holistic cancer caregiving home – Alok Nibash – which has significantly impacted the cancer community and beyond. Mahzabin also built Ucchash School in one of the country’s most remote locations to bring education to an underdeveloped community.
“Mahzabin embodies kindness in her leadership. Her every action is a reflection of genuine care and compassion. This kindness not only enhances team dynamics but also yields tangible business benefits. Her noteworthy commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility with leading brands and focus on projects with positive societal impact demonstrate her dedication. Establishing Alok Nibash, the first holistic cancer caregiving home for marginalised communities, exemplifies her commitment to sustainable change.”
Mahe Zehra Husain
MZ is a mathematician, data scientist, serial entrepreneur and artist – and the CEO of FRT, the award-winning software house. In just five years of her passionate and compassionate leadership, the company has seen growth of 400% and female workforce growth of 50%, becoming a successful company that promotes diversity, inclusion and women-friendly policies in a male-dominated sector. In addition, MZ has mentored over 124 women technologists and launched two unique digital platform ventures that promote women’s creative work and ideas.
“MZ is a people’s person, and her compassion for women led her to change the dynamics of her organisation. From a small services firm, with a handful of employees, FRT now stands at 170 employees, encouraging diversity, inclusion, and promoting women technologists. MZ has implemented woman-friendly policies and grew her female workforce by 50%. FRT has now become an internationally acclaimed top software firm.”
I have found that sometimes just a little bit of kindness, understanding and flexibility can save someone's career and also ensure your team is a strong knit unit that can weather inevitable storms.
As long as the company is not being impacted in a negative way, offering some flexibility on a case to case basis can change an employee's life and career.
As a gay man who witnessed the difficulties faced by his LGBTQ+ classmates seeking employment, Kento started JobRainbow, a job hunting website. The platform now boasts over 660,000 active monthly users and over 500 registered companies, making it Japan’s largest DEI-focused HR service. Beyond supporting job seekers, it offers consulting and training for government agencies, educational institutions and corporations including Facebook, Adobe and Google. Kento’s empathy, generosity and proactive approach have made a significant impact on his colleagues and beyond.
“Kento embodies kindness in leadership through their dedication to creating a more inclusive and accepting workplace for LGBT individuals. By establishing the first and only LGBT recruiting company in Japan, they have provided a platform where LGBT individuals can find job opportunities and work comfortably as their authentic selves. Their efforts have garnered support from numerous companies, fostering diversity and innovation.”
Kay Thari Kyaw
Kay Thari is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, best-selling author and public speaker passionate about women’s empowerment and the development of young leaders. Kind-hearted and highly active, she supports both her employees and society at large. During COVID-19, she offered over 10,000 students a free online course in leadership and personal development, and provided 36 paid internships. For her work, she has won both the Myanmar Young Entrepreneur Award and the ASEAN Youth Award.
“Kay Thari is a highly active and passionate young leader. She is a role model for her team leaders. Her mindset and attitude always inspire and motivate others. Her leadership style creates a feeling of family. She always teaches her coworkers and employees to learn by doing. Yearly, she also provides educational supplies and textbooks to her employees’ children and donates to causes supporting the elderly.”
Passionate about the future of ASEAN, Kaushik serves clients in the areas of sustainability, growth, competitiveness and productivity and has worked across multiple industries including energy, basic materials, logistics, consumer products and the public sector. He demonstrates exemplary empathy and mindfulness, both with his clients and his team, and he has mentored many leaders at McKinsey, actively promoting diversity. Kaushik is also deeply committed to youth development and supports Young Leaders for Indonesia.
“Kaushik is helping solve a range of very complex issues for his clients that impact societies at large. He has deeply inspired many of us at McKinsey, mentoring innumerable leaders – supporting us when we needed support and watching with pride when we excelled. He is the epitome of what an authentic, respectful and mindful leader is, and his kindness has touched many hearts.”
1. Role modeling by senior leaders. People mirror the behavior of those around them. If we, the leaders, ourselves act as role models and persuade senior colleagues close to us to do the same – others take note and unconsciously follow suit. For example, expressing gratitude with words or small tokens of appreciation and checking in on individuals and their families at the start of meetings are small gestures that cost little, but can have enormous impact.
2. Reinforcement through formal support systems. Creating and leveraging formal mechanisms. E.g., noting examples of kind actions in evaluation memos and calling out great examples in office town halls. Then, you can create a mutually reinforcing ecosystem.
Recently, my aging parents have been very unwell. They live far away in India. I had to rush over to help them at zero notice. A couple of my peers canceled their own plans to step in for me at work and to fill in my responsibilities. They expected and got – nothing in return. Another example: Years ago, I got into trouble and made decisions that cost my Firm many millions of dollars. Our regional boss sat me down and rather than berating me – talked about trust and the need to build trust. I remember such generosity and try to help others in the same way when I get the chance.
After a promising career in sport, Kath suffered multiple life-threatening injuries along with unimaginable personal trauma. In her darkest days it was the kindness and compassion of others that saved her – and then inspired her to launch the Kindness Factory, a non-profit that helps foster a kinder community through research-based educational programmes for schools and universities across Australia, USA and the UK. Today, the organisation’s website has over six million acts of kindness logged, and Kath further champions the movement as a renowned keynote speaker.
“Through her incredible story, Kath has touched the lives of people from all walks of life. Whether presenting to corporates, schools, communities or elite sportspeople, her genuineness, authenticity and touch of humour inspire action. Her work with organisations ensures every member feels that they can contribute in some way to a culture of belonging and kindness. The free downloadable Kindness Curriculum… is leading to a generational shift in the kindness skills of future leaders.”
When we are in a state of chaos, rigidity or threat, cortisol floods our prefrontal cortex, blocking the area of the brain responsible for our ability to problem solve or access our values. The pre-frontal cortex is what makes humans fundamentally different from any other living species and is essential for us to thrive.
Thanks to our feel-good chemical oxytocin, when we are in a state of kindness we have access to our whole brain. Higher degrees of kindness allow for higher degrees of integration. So... when we are kind, we access all of our brain, allowing us to be better leaders and people managers. And the wonderful things is, kindness is free and in infinite supply of all of us!
In truth, I was having an identity crisis: I’d been robbed of my childhood dream of being a professional cricketer, and then one afternoon, during a session with my rehab team, I was told that there was a very high possibility that I also might never walk again. After the session, as I sat in my wheelchair next to the elevator, my emotions close to the surface, I suddenly felt like there wasn’t enough air in the corridor. I desperately needed to get downstairs to my room, where I could breathe again without others seeing my tears.
I could never have anticipated that being unable to reach the button to call the elevator would be the thing that pushed me beyond my breaking point. My injuries had limited my movement, and from my wheelchair the button was just out of reach—a matter of centimetres. Despite all the challenges I’d faced in recent weeks—having multiple surgeries, quitting my job and packing up my life for the indefinite future—this was the first time I felt truly broken. It was an emotional fracture that I hadn’t experienced before in my twenty-five years on Earth.
I felt completely crushed. And also a little silly and embarrassed. I had always prided myself on my self-reliance, and valued having a sense of control of my life. Not only had I now lost all independence, I had started to fear that this would be what it was like for the rest of my life.
I dropped my head into my hands, hoping no one would see me. Tears streamed from my eyes. The ping of the elevator forced me to raise my head, just in time to notice that a man had pressed the down arrow for me, then walked off down the hall.
The man hadn’t said anything, and I couldn’t muster the energy between my tears to call out a thank-you for his simple gesture. But it was a profound moment for me: for perhaps the first time in my life, I felt connected to something bigger than myself.
We hadn’t exchanged words—we hadn’t even made eye contact—but that man and I had connected through kindness. He was able to give it, and I was able to receive it. I wheeled myself into the lift and made my way to my room.
By the time I got there, the tears that had escaped me only moments before were fading into distant memory. With gritted teeth, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and I told myself that I would walk again. If not for myself, then for all the people who had helped me, just as that stranger had.
There was more to his act, I realised, than just pressing a button when he’d seen I wasn’t able to. His small gesture told me that I was not alone. Somehow it felt like he believed in me, and that I needed to believe in myself again too. Just as he had chosen to help me, I had to choose to help myself.
Karl Japeth Rosal
Karl’s exceptional and empathetic leadership skills saw him promoted to Second Officer at the age of just 24. He excels in the position, even using his spare time to empower his subordinates to advance their own careers, and continually advocating for mental health. Alongside his formal employment, Karl is involved in a number of initiatives, serving as Director of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Philippines hub, founding an online initiative to assist seafarers during the height of the pandemic and working as both a youth advocate and an environmentalist.
“Despite the social stigma of mental wellbeing, Karl never ceases to talk about it during meetings and normal conversation. With the alarming statistics showing that seafarers are more likely to commit suicide than land-based jobs, this is something that is crucial in the workplace… Although I hold a higher position onboard, following his lead is something that doesn’t hurt my pride. His leadership is not only based on his rank, but on his traits as a human being; and for that, we respect him so much.”
Karin is a highly accomplished professional with extensive experience in the mining industry. In her current role, she is instrumental in driving operational excellence and fostering collaboration across teams, and in under three years, she has effectively managed integration initiatives and streamlining processes to enhance overall performance for Rio Tinto Aluminium. Karin possesses a unique ability to infuse kindness into every business decision, and she extends this empathy and understanding not only to her direct team but also to individuals across the extended team, function and company.
“Kindness permeates every aspect of Karin’s life, making her a truly remarkable leader. Her compassionate leadership style has left a lasting impact on me and the entire team. Life presents us with various challenges, but Karin has consistently been there to offer unwavering support, both professionally and personally… By considering the human impact of decisions, Karin creates an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.”
Kamille Theresa G. Corpuz
Kamille reports directly to senior executives of her company, with her leadership and expertise proving invaluable. In her role, she exceeds programme targets while managing successful collaborations with internal and external stakeholders, establishing impactful partnerships with various NGOs, CSOs and government units. Ever dedicated and compassionate, she has also spearheaded various advocacy and employee engagement programmes, promoting sustainability and relief operations, running mentoring initiatives, and offering pro bono consulting to various NGOs and ventures.
“In leading projects that promote sustainability and environmental protection, Kamille has a high awareness of how one’s environment significantly affects an individual. Her leadership style translates exactly to what she values: a supportive, encouraging, and inclusive approach that reflects how nature influences nurture, which, in turn, contributes to development. Under her supervision, she not only drives results but also inspires the team, making her an exceptional and compassionate leader.”
For more than 40 years, Jessupha has led Thonglor-Ramintra Co. Ltd., a company operating several Mercedes Benz sales and service centres. With a number of prestigious degrees in business administration and leadership as well as Buddhist philosophy, she is an extremely kind leader – not working solely for profits, but inspired to create a kind society starting with herself and extending to society at large. By establishing a strong, close-knit workforce founded on ethical values, her company has in turn built a strong base of loyal customers and won awards for its high-quality service.
“Dr Jessupha has created a strong culture of respect, trust, and kindness in her organisation, and the management and technical teams collaborate based on these principles. To embed this ethos in employee practices, Dr Jessupha has set up several learning groups with a focus on demonstrating mutual respect, mutual trust, and kindness. A focus on team collaboration creates solid foundations for providing high quality services to customers, and the company has won several awards for service quality.”
Kindness from leaders can help to build trust and respect with employees as it shows how they care about others and demonstrate empathy and understanding.
Kindness from leaders can help to improve communication and relationship-building, and enable leaders to better understand the needs and perspectives of their employees.
Kindness from leaders can help to promote a positive work culture and enable organizations to attract and retain top talent as it shows employees that they are valued and appreciated.
In her role at Schneider Electric, Giuliana leverages her extensive expertise in management consulting and corporate strategy to drive decarbonisation efforts in large organisations. Not only is she instrumental in driving the business’s growth, but her dedication to excellence; empathetic, inclusive leadership style; and commitment to fostering young talent have made a profound impact in the workplace – and beyond. In addition to mentoring students and lecturing on climate change, Giuliana collaborates with NGOs and supports startups dedicated to sustainability and social impact.
“Giuliana’s compassionate leadership has fostered a supportive environment at Schneider Electric, where individuals thrive professionally and contribute to a sustainable future. Her efforts to empower the next generation of leaders and her commitment to raising climate change awareness have had a profound impact, and her unwavering dedication serves as an inspiration to others, in business and the wider community.”
For example, by understanding and sharing the feelings of others, and putting their needs before your own, a leader can create a supportive and inclusive atmosphere that encourages collaboration and innovation. Demonstrating kindness consistently, even in challenging situations, requires courage and resilience. This consistency builds trust and credibility, which are crucial for effective leadership. Fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion, and encouraging the growth and well-being of team members, helps to create a strong, cohesive team that is more likely to achieve its goals.
Kindness is integral to effective leadership. Without kindness, leaders may struggle to build strong, cohesive teams and may ultimately fail to achieve their goals.
As a member of the APAC Integration Management Office, Eri’s dedication and expertise have played a critical role in the success of NTT Ltd. integration, the largest global business integration in the ICT sector. She is responsible for implementing initiatives that align with new organisational goals, and her exceptional leadership skills have facilitated a seamless integration process, overcoming cultural differences, fostering a supportive culture of inclusivity and creativity, helping the organisation increase employee engagement and achieving operational efficiency and improved profitability.
“Eri’s open-mindedness and willingness to listen to diverse perspectives foster a culture of inclusivity that encourages individuals to freely express their opinions. Eri’s leadership style has helped to cultivate a positive and supportive environment, strengthening the team’s resilience and eliminating any silo mentality. As a result, employee engagement has increased, and innovation has been stimulated through the team’s diversified dynamics.”
I value diversity and inclusivity, and I encourage my team members to share their perspectives freely and understand each other. By enhancing the power of resilience in the team, we can create a positive and supportive environment.
My leadership style has had a positive impact on the team culture, resulting in increased employee engagement and fixing silo mentality. By leveraging the diversified team power, we have been able to drive innovation, improve business outcomes, and create more inclusive and equitable workplace.
A multi-award-winning international speaker who has delivered keynote addresses at events including the One Young World Summit, Elvis is also a member of several government and community sector boards, and an advocate for numerous social justice and social responsibility issues. He influences decision makers on policies and reforms that affect the most marginalised communities, lobbies for diversity and gender equality, and develops strategies that help advance sustainable employment and youth engagement as well as prevent domestic violence, homelessness and suicide.
“Elvis is a great humanitarian and changemaker. His story of personal hardship, including experiences of homelessness and mental illness, is extremely impactful and powerful. It educates the community while encouraging other people who have faced similar hardships to seek support and speak about their experiences… Through his leadership, advocacy, community education and support, Elvis has shown a commitment to social justice I have not seen before. He is one of the most passionate, dedicated, and committed young people I’ve ever met.”
In the workplace, there are several actions a leader can take to promote such values. First, cultivate an environment where your team members can take pride in their true selves and feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work, free from judgment. Implement a buddy system that allows employees to pair up and support each other, both personally and professionally, fostering a sense of camaraderie. In today's world, mental health is a significant concern, and it's vital for you as a leader to encourage those facing mental health challenges to seek assistance. Whenever possible, offer support and resources to facilitate their journey towards seeking help.
Dr. Rishad Choudhury Robin
With a professional foundation in public health, research and academia, and project management, Rishad currently works for The Leprosy Mission International, where he oversees research initiatives, leads project teams and collaborates with stakeholders to drive evidence-based interventions. His previous roles include that of Public Health Officer at the World Health Organization, where he worked closely with refugees. His kindness, empathy, concern for wellbeing and emphasis on connection and relationship infiltrates every aspect of his leadership style.
“Rishad’s impact on others has been profound. By leading with kindness, he inspires his team members to go above and beyond, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. He encourages open communication, actively listens to different perspectives, and empowers others to contribute their ideas and talents. His inclusive leadership style promotes diversity and ensures that everyone’s voice is heard and respected.”
Trust and Respect: Kind leaders tend to earn the trust and respect of their team members more easily. When employees see their leaders as genuinely caring and considerate individuals, they are more likely to be open, honest, and willing to follow their guidance.
Team Morale: Acts of kindness, such as recognizing and appreciating employees' efforts, can significantly boost team morale. A positive work atmosphere leads to higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and increased employee engagement.
Conflict Resolution: Kind leaders are often better equipped to handle conflicts and disagreements within the team. They can approach these situations with empathy, seeking to understand all perspectives and finding amicable solutions.
Communication: Effective communication is a cornerstone of leadership. Kindness in communication means being a good listener, providing constructive feedback, and delivering messages with tact and empathy. This fosters better understanding and collaboration within the team.
Emotional Intelligence: Kind leaders tend to have high emotional intelligence, which allows them to understand and manage their own emotions as well as those of their team members. Emotional intelligence helps in making informed decisions and building strong interpersonal relationships.
Motivation and Productivity: When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more motivated to perform their best. Kind leaders inspire their team members and create a supportive environment where everyone can thrive, leading to increased productivity.
Innovation: Kind leaders often encourage a culture of creativity and innovation by allowing employees to express their ideas without fear of criticism. This openness can lead to breakthroughs and continuous improvement.
Long-Term Loyalty: Kindness builds long-term loyalty among team members. Employees are more likely to stay with an organization and give their best when they feel genuinely cared for by their leaders.
Role Modeling: Leaders set the tone for the organization's culture. When leaders model kindness, it encourages similar behavior among employees, creating a culture of respect and consideration.
Effective Decision-Making: Kind leaders are more likely to make fair and ethical decisions. Their decisions are less likely to be influenced by personal biases, and they are more inclined to consider the well-being of all stakeholders.
In conclusion, kindness is a critical trait for effective leadership because it enhances trust, communication, teamwork, and overall workplace satisfaction. It contributes to a positive organizational culture, fosters strong relationships, and ultimately leads to better results and long-term success. Kindness should be seen as a core leadership competency alongside other skills and qualities.
Dr. Khadizah Haji Abdul Mumin
Khadizah fosters innovation and continuous improvement in nursing and midwifery education, research and healthcare services. Her contributions to the sector have significantly impacted the academic community, both locally and internationally, and her nation as a whole, and her work has been recognised with multiple awards. Beyond her formal position, Khadizah has profoundly impacted the development of individuals under her mentorship, her empathy and encouragement empowering others to excel.
“Khadizah is an empathetic and considerate person who deeply understands others’ needs, respects their dignity and acknowledges their strengths, encourages them to proudly excel, fosters a strong sense of belonging, and bonds them cohesively. She endlessly empowers others, igniting a sense of self-belief, and inspiring them to embrace challenges, overcome obstacles, and surpass their expectations. Her unbiased approach ensures that everyone feels valued and supported.”
Additional guidance, flexible development options, and connection with relevant resources for support may be established. This act of kindness not only helped others improve professionally but also instilled a sense of belonging and trust. An individual confidence grew, and he/she began excelling in his/her profession.
By exhibiting this leadership, other individuals will be inspired by the kindness. Consequently, they also may eventually carried forward the lessons of compassion and personalized support, creating a ripple effect of kindness throughout their nursing/midwifery career, be it in academic and also practices. This example demonstrates how a single act of kindness in nursing/midwifery can lead to long-lasting positive outcomes, shaping both the individual's journey and the culture of learning.
Dircia Sarmento Belo
Besides working full time for Timor-Leste’s National Directorate of Climate Change, climate activist and influencer Dircia is also a founder and co-founder of two national youth movements, where she works voluntarily to lead environmental and climate initiatives and provide programmes in mentoring and leadership development. Through workshops, conferences and social media, she has educated more than a thousand young people about climate change, encouraging them to become environmental leaders and instilling them with confidence by creating safe, inclusive and supportive spaces.
“Dircia is a powerful influencer and motivator. Every time she learns something new from global programs, she always considers how to transfer that knowledge to her fellow young people…She provides a safe and inclusive space for young people to lead and improve their confidence. She serves as an inspiration for many young people in Timor-Leste who want to pursue careers in environmental studies, and some of them now have the opportunities to participate in global programs because of her support.”
Denise Keelor Ireland
At Accenture, Denise supports clients in their digital transformation journeys, where she navigates seamlessly between strategic and tactical approaches and embodies people-oriented, trustworthy and genuinely caring leadership. Passionate about equality and gender inclusion in the workplace, she serves as an inclusion and diversity sponsor for women at Accenture, a Pride Ally and a mentor to women returning to the workforce. Outside the workplace, Denise has been involved with NGOs and church programmes that champion children’s education, wellbeing and safety.
“The biggest acts of kindness are often invisible yet sow a seed of change through the people touched by them. This defines Denise’s people-oriented leadership style. Staying close to the team and frequent interactions have helped Denise in her role as an inclusion and diversity sponsor for our women at Accenture. She demonstrates truly human behaviour in all her interactions, irrespective of the background people herald from… Working with Denise on a team yields an environment to think and a motivation to excel.”
Kindness, to me, is even core to being a good human being and should be transcended to each ones life and not just to leadership.
With a PhD in Biochemistry and senior position at Accenture, Deepa develops business improvement strategies for top pharmaceutical companies. Beyond this technical role, she is dedicated to bringing out the best in people through leadership training, inclusivity programmes and crisis support; and her commitment has also made a significant impact externally, through education initiatives for underprivileged children and girls as well as support programmes for women entrepreneurs. Deepa is widely published and has received multiple awards for her work in science and inspiring leadership.
“Deepa identifies her purpose as ‘bringing the best out of people.’ She dedicates her time to constructing training programs to nurture leadership skills and creates platforms for employees to showcase their talent. She also coaches employees on speaking up for rights and preventing microaggression. She has been a part of the Covid Care team, supporting several employees during the pandemic. Being a sponsor for the Pride program, she is also committed to uplifting and strengthening the pride community.”
Driven by a strong sense of social justice and a love of her people, Mony co-founded ACT Cambodia to provide opportunities and quality education for children from varying economic backgrounds. Under her courageous and kind leadership, the organisation has provided over 200 scholarships; trained youths and adults in essential business skills; provided employment opportunities to single, at-risk mothers; and become financially sustainable. Nationally revered, Mony has also assisted the government in formulating curricula to assist drop-out students.
“Mony is recognised by the local government and community as an exemplary leader. For the last two years, she has trained a group of 15–17 year old students in entrepreneurship, accounting, and business management skills. These students started as timid, shy, and unable to use computers at all. Fast forward to today – they have become aspiring, courageous, and inspiring young businessmen/women. In the past year, Mony also has trained four young women leaders for management positions and supported them on their journey for growth.”
Kindness gives space to others to share their ideas, express themself and their needs.
Kindness demonstrates love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Kindness demonstrates humility and services to others.
Chelsea Elizabeth Samson
In her multifaceted role at KonsultaMD, the Philippine’s largest healthcare app, Chelsea engages various healthcare providers, institutions and government bodies around public health concerns and the delivery of end-to-end healthcare, in addition to improving healthcare financing through public and private partnerships. She is also a sustainability champion across the workplace and is committed to uplifting the healthcare journeys of every Filipino. Chelsea embodies kindness in her leadership, fostering a positive work culture and unity through encouraging communication and camaraderie.
“Ever sensitive to others’ needs, Chelsea goes above and beyond through acts of kindness. She is everyone’s doctor in the company – the one people call when they are ill or need medical advice whatever time of day. It is second nature to her to go the extra mile to make each team member feel special and known, whether through her words of recognition and encouragement, or sending gift baskets to colleagues who are ill. She is generous with her time and talents, as well, helping not only her direct reports but also other departments with her innovative and creative ideas.”
2. Give effort to make real relationships, inside and outside of work
3. Practice forgiveness
4. Be authentic to self
5. Smile often
Camilo Andres Calderon
Throughout more than 11 years of employment at Rio Tinto, Camilo has been consistently described as the company’s kindest leader. He started out in Colombia as a production supervisor, working largely on a dewatering project in coal, then migrated to Queensland to work in coal mines. During this time, he has used his skills and his incredibly personable approach to coach and guide the people he works with, promoting honest communication and inspiring confidence and trust – resulting in an effective team that produces results in line with business goals.
“Despite being spread over four different sites, Camilo is available when you need to contact him and gives advice on how to deal with situations that come up. If a team member is struggling, we only need to let him know, and he urgently checks in with that team member regardless of his own workload at that time. He promotes teamwork and actively encourages each of us to be kind, courteous, and supportive of each other.”
At just 23 years old, Bushra is a dedicated and visionary leader and Founder of Mahwari Justice, a groundbreaking campaign for menstrual justice in Pakistan that challenges stigma, provides education and ensures access to safe periods during crises, to date reaching over 150,000 menstruators in flood-affected areas. Her impact extends beyond advocacy; she also works with women facing gender-based violence, providing employment in the creation of eco-friendly pads. Bushra’s compassion is felt widely – not only among the individuals she serves but also among the team she leads.
“Bushra’s embodiment of kindness in leadership is nothing short of transformative. Her relentless advocacy for period rights has extended to the most vulnerable and marginalised individuals, including incarcerated women, trans men, and disabled individuals. Bushra’s unwavering commitment to amplifying voices and fighting for period rights amidst disasters has shattered societal barriers, ushering in a culture of inclusivity and compassion.”
Bharti Singh Chauhan
Having overcome real-life challenges at a young age, Bharti went on to become an empathetic, accomplished leader who inspires both her team and countless others across the globe. A multi-award-winning social entrepreneur, she founded a non-profit that empowers women and girls across India through innovative and sustainable solutions in education, health and safety and sustainable livelihoods. Her work has made a difference in the lives of more than 1 million women and girls, and in addition, she serves in a number of ambassadorial roles, including as a Global Goodwill Ambassador.
“Bharti actively listens to her team, her beneficiaries, her partners, and the communities she works with, creating specific solutions by sharing constructive feedback. She is a role model for others and leads by example. Her positivity creates a positive work environment, and she recognises and appreciates each of her team members for all the hard work they do and offers support and guidance as and when it is needed. Her leadership skills are highly appreciated, and she has a golden heart of kindness to drive change.”
Beverly oversees the NCMH’s daily operations, working with the Executive Committee to plan, approve, monitor and evaluate programmes and activities to ensure quality mental health services to patients. She is the epitome of a kind leader, providing steady leadership in the changing environment, prioritising the wellbeing of others and generously providing opportunities for staff to explore ideas. Beyond the hospital, she is a member of a number of sectoral committees, including the Philippine Mental Health Council.
“Dr Azucena has served at least three medical directors as their Chief of Medical and Professional Staff. She maintained her integrity amidst all the issues and problems she and the hospital faced. Being one of the few women leaders in the hospital, she often experienced discrimination from people in power, but she persevered and continued to do what she does best – serve in the best interest of the patients.”
As President of ALBBS, Pakistan’s first children’s library on wheels, Basarat wears many hats: She contributes her storybooks and early childhood education learning materials, designs innovative literacy projects for the community’s most underserved children, raises awareness, mentors her team in essential leadership skills and even teaches girls creative skills via a mobile maker space. Under Basarat’s leadership, ALBBS has impacted over one million children and trained over 1,000 teachers, and has overcome every obstacle – from COVID-19 to catastrophic floods – thanks to her imagination and empathy.
“Basarat is the resilient volunteer behind Alif Laila Book Bus Society, the brain behind its success and innovative ventures, and the empathetic warrior gracefully pulling it through every obstacle to fulfil the very meaningful purpose of brightening the lives of Pakistan’s underprivileged children with colourful story books…She is an advocate for promoting literacy for the young and a motherly guide and a mentor to her team.”
People from diverse backgrounds enter a place of work. It’s purely through kindness and a focus on them and their needs can a wholesome organization be built where everyone is happy to give their best.
They were her pride and joy. My comment on how lovely they were made her want me to have them.
I told her they wouldn’t look as good on me because I wasn’t that young and beautiful so she agreed to keep them. That incident thirty five years ago touched my heart immensely.
Arlene Christy Demadara Lusterio
Architect and environmental planner Arlene founded TAO-Pilipinas, a women-led NGO of architects and planners that provides humanitarian and shelter assistance to vulnerable communities and has helped build close to 200 disaster-resilient structures. She is a groundbreaker in the participatory approach to planning and design in social housing, driven by compassion and an unwavering commitment to capacity building that empowers communities. Arlene also initiated an internship and mentoring programme that exposes students and graduates to community development work.
“Arlene’s unwavering commitment and compassion for the underserved is what inspires the women architects who make up TAO-Pilipinas. With Arlene at the helm, design is a process that gives voice to and values people; it is a journey to their empowerment. Architects working in the margins and bringing the benefits of good design to those who need it most (but cannot afford the services of architects) require a lot of courage and resilience. Arlene has been the driving force that keeps TAO’s giving spirit alive.”
Leadership is not only being in front and taking the lead but also taking care that no one is left behind, that everyone is able to catchup. And in most cases helping others who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged to "catchup" or gain equity requires sensitivity and kindness. Being a leader could also mean being the last behind, so no one else is left behind. This is only possible with a leader who is compassionate, humble, forgiving, understanding and loving. And this too is summed-up as kindess.
Effective leadership is leading by example as a servant-leader, but also being firm and decisive guided by principles. It is being responsible to achieve the set goals of your family, organization or nation. An effective leader sets the tempo of the march towards success but that tempo is always tempered with kindness.
Anton Mari H. Lim
Named as one of Forbes Asia’s 2016 Heroes of Philanthropy, Anton is a practising veterinary surgeon by profession – and also a businessman, humanitarian and community volunteer throughout the Philippines, where he advocates tirelessly for the disadvantaged. In 2010, he co-founded the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation to meet the needs of students forced to swim to and from school; his kind, warm and inclusive mindset extending beyond his team to the communities he works with, where his approachability fosters open dialogue and collaboration.
“Dr Anton is a leader who exudes kindness, effortlessly embodying approachability and warmth. He cultivates an environment where our team feels safe to voice their thoughts and concerns, knowing they will be heard and valued. This inclusive mindset extends beyond our immediate team… With a deep understanding of our communities’ unique needs, he tirelessly fundraises to catalyse positive societal transformation. His unwavering dedication to uplifting the marginalised is a testament to his pure kindness.”
- Foster open communication, listening and responding with empathy.
- Celebrate acts of kindness, inspiring appreciation and motivation.
- Cultivate teamwork and collaboration, emphasizing support for one another.
- Provide growth opportunities, promoting emotional intelligence and effective communication.
- Create opportunities for kindness through volunteering, collaboration, and random acts of kindness.
- Stand firm against bullying and harassment, ensuring a respectful environment.
- Encourage work-life balance, nurturing well-being and reducing stress.
- Support mental health with flexible work hours and breaks.
- Embrace diversity and inclusion, valuing every perspective and positive action.
Remember, kindness is an ongoing journey, measured not by size but by great love, selflessness, and compassion. Your small acts can create a ripple of positive impact, transforming your workplace's atmosphere. Lead by example, and let kindness spark hope for a better tomorrow.
Upon setting foot in the community, we started showing kindness through smiles, warm handshakes, hugs, and treats for their kids. Gradually, their trust in us grew, and more community members joined our meetings. By listening attentively and offering encouragement and support, we made a profound impact. They felt acknowledged, valued, and understood, reigniting their hope.
With renewed hope and strength, the community collaborated with us, embodying the spirit of "Bayanihan" - working together as one. From building a single yellow school boat, we stayed and supported them. The result? Kids graduating from universities and breaking free from poverty.
This story proves that small acts of kindness can make a lasting impact, igniting hope and inspiring resilience. It's what drives our Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation's philosophy: "The great thing a little lamp can do which the big sun cannot do is to give light at night. It shows no one is superior by size, but by purpose. If we cannot do great things, we can do small things in a great way. Little things make a big difference to God."
Aisha Lareb Memon
As the award-winning founder of NGO Conversation For Change, Aisha works to prevent child abuse and provide support for its victims. She visits schools, religious madrasas and coaching centres, guiding students about good and bad touch, conducting parents’ meetings and performing practical activities that help students tackle potentially dangerous situations. In addition, Aisha has been involved with numerous diverse activities including promoting menstrual health and offering free tuition and medical services. Intent on driving positive change, she is generous with her expertise.
“Aisha works with different national and international organisations to create a better, inclusive, and equal society for all. The recent floods in Pakistan affected thousands of families. At the time she distributed menstrual kits and promoted period hygiene. Despite her meaningful contributions, Aisha remains humble, approachable, and always willing to share her knowledge and expertise with social activists working for the same cause.”