Connect with kindness: responding to Covid-19
Stories are fascinating things. They convey huge amounts of information. They help people to make meaning of things and rapidly learn. They impact behaviours and spark ideas.
Storytelling itself has enormous potential to accelerate change and drive performance.
But through this period of unprecedented change and uncertainty there is one benefit of storytelling that is perhaps most relevant for leaders to consider. It is the ability of stories to connect people at a rational and an emotional level. It’s the fact that stories can connect us and unite people behind both challenges and opportunities.
The stories that emerge about an organisation now will help define the lens through which their people, partners, customers, shareholders and the communities they operate within view them.
Whether it was Pret A Manager announcing its actions to support NHS members, LinkedIn providing free learning materials, Louis Vuitton turning its hand to manufacturing hand sanitiser or Google moving quickly to set up a fund for temporary staff to take paid sick leave, companies are playing their part in making people’s lives easier.
An ocean of kindness and support has swept across the globe, and stories are emerging at local and global levels. A small corner shop in Edinburgh is giving away free ‘corona virus packs’ to the elderly. Likewise, a local distillery in Bristol is producing sanitary gel rather than gin and donating it to local residents in exchange for a donation to charity.Even small stories are having a major impact: inquiries for the sanitiser have been pouring in from all over the country, including from Network Rail and many hospitals.
On Monday, fitness guru Joe Wicks became the nation’s PE teacher with more than 800,000 households live streaming his home workout. The Kindness Pandemic Facebook group which started on 14th March now has more than 80,000 followers across the world who are encouraging each other by sharing stories of the individual acts of kindness they have shown.
Acts of kindness build the right stories within an organisation as they inspire employees and customers to do great things. Psychology even shows that acts of kindness create an emotional win for two parties as they are both left with a positive glow (Guardian). Further, cognitive science has shown that shared adversity brings out team innovation and creativity (Psychol, 2013).
In these complex and uncertain times, the power of connecting with one another at an emotional level is more pertinent than ever before. Kindness will keep teams motivated, engaged and connected with one another. And as we go through this together, community action will keep us on the right path forward. This is a narrative that belongs to all of us, at a national and global level, and we can write it together.
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