Our 50 Leading Lights

Wanda Hamilton

Chief Executive Officer, Canada UK Foundation

Wanda is a seasoned leader in the charitable sector, committed to bringing life to her values – equality, diversity and inclusion. These values are also said to be specifically Canadian and are, perhaps, central to her effectiveness as CEO of the Canada-UK Foundation, which exists to bring knowledge of Canada to the UK. As a CEO who also fundraises, Wanda’s mission is to help philanthropists make great connections between their own values and the potentially world-changing programmes that need philanthropic support. As her words affirm, “Together we are building the world we will leave as our shared legacy.”
“Wanda’s people-first approach to business is key to organisational success. She is a heart-based leader: measuring on impact and outcome; maintaining flexibility about working hours and conditions; understanding her team’s personal situations, including their motivation, career aspirations and personal circumstances; and, perhaps above all, leading with personal authenticity. She believes that contributions from all, irrespective of their position in the organisation, will achieve more deeply embedded and thus more sustainable business results,and she is consistently transparent and demonstrably values diversity, inclusion and equality, motivating personal buy-in and driving change.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Demonstrations of kindness are as infinite and variable as demonstrations of humanity itself, but for me, the core dimension of kindness is authenticity. Authenticity means living and working with your core values. If people know who you are, what you stand for and what you believe, you're exponentially more likely to create the culture and the relationships that engender trust and collaboration, both of which are essential building blocks of productivity and, ultimately, success.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
It's simple. Happy people do more. There is a proven connection between productivity and kindness and a damaging connection between lack of kindness and bottom line impact through employee relations issues. The challenge is understanding that kindness is NOT synonymous with failure to uphold, for instance, performance standards, but rather it's about upholding standards in a way that shares knowledge, creates learning and new behaviours and gives people growth and performance, that ultimately makes a positive bottom line contribution.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I'm reluctant to give this example because Unilever has supported the awards and it may be impolitic, but it's absolute evidence of the correlation between kindness, leadership impact and corporate culture. One need only look at the awards and personal track record of former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, and then look at the innumerable best employer awards and recognition given to Unilever. Polman is a stellar example of kindness in leadership, a man who lives his core value of authenticity.

Vivek Nama

Clinical Gynaecologist, Croydon University Hospital NHS Trust

Since joining the Gynaecology Oncology Team as Lead at Croydon University Hospital, Vivek’s passion for his work has helped develop the department’s service. He has created a new multidisciplinary proforma and rapid access clinic assessment form, which has eased the process of patient discussion and referral, ensuring a more seamless patient pathway and a more concise and consistent assessment of the patient. He is committed to delivering exceptional care for his patients, always going above and beyond.
“Vivek is a kind and compassionate clinician. He is adored by patients and colleagues alike. He always ensures the best level of care for patients. He is very enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and expertise. He promotes the development of others through encouragement and feedback. He inspires others to be the best they can and to aim for the top.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
With current society being so materialistic and self-orientated, being generous and considerate is becoming difficult. This quality in a leader helps to nurture a team to achieve the goals. It preserves the team dynamics and interpersonal relationships, as kindness is reflected among the team members to each other, through their leader.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Being respectful, helpful and considerate to a fellow human being should be the law of a good society. Kindness in business preserves the longevity of any business. If the business gives back to society, establishing a close relationship with its staff and its members, there is no doubt of it being successful. Bournville is a typical example of a business establishment that provided for its people.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
When I joined, the service was under threat of being withdrawn because of poor performance. For the year 2018–19, we were the fifth best in the country. We achieved targets in 97.6% of cases. Service transformation was possible by caring for and nurturing the team. All team members felt that they were valued, able to implement changes and appreciated. This was only feasible by being kind and caring to each other, arranging social dinners and celebrating each other’s personal events.

Victoria Fox

Chief Executive Officer, AAR

Victoria is CEO of AAR, the leading experts in client/agency relationships. She joined the company in 2019, following a successful 20-year career agency-side, working in everything from digital to advertising and shopper marketing. While CEO of LIDA, M&C Saatchi’s global customer engagement agency, the agency doubled in size and twice won the Campaign Agency of the Year Customer Engagement award. Victoria was also a Global Sponsor for diversity and inclusion across the M&C Saatchi network and was named Global Champion of Women in Business by the Financial Times in 2017 and 2018. Currently, she sits on the WACL Executive Committee and chairs its Future Leaders Award (2018/19).
“Victoria is living proof that you can be genuinely warm and kind while still succeeding in a tough, highly-competitive industry. Her strength as a leader is that she doesn’t just care; she makes caring count. She’s a gifted listener, always making time for others so they can be the best versions of themselves. She’s respected by the teams she works with, often being sought out as a mentor. Her down-to-earth approach, combining intellect and honesty, makes her formidable at nurturing client relationships. And she stands up for the diversity and inclusion agenda in a way that’s hugely inspiring and good for business.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
The world feels like it is speeding up with technology, and this has a huge impact on well-being. It also means that the blurring of lines between work and home increases. There is a responsibility that comes with leadership to recognise this and manage your people with kindness.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
I strive to be trusted, as I think trust inspires people to pull together and collectively achieve something great. Kindness is part of building trust and driving motivation. Most of us trust those who look out for our interests as well as their own, care about us, explain why they are doing whatever they are doing, listen to our concerns and who foster a sense of inclusion, connection and belonging.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I am part of an organisation called WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications London). Our purpose is to drive gender equality in the communications industry through inspiration, support and campaigning. This club is made up of some of the top female leaders in the country, and they give up their time to support other women to reach their full potential. To me, this is an act of kindness in leadership, and the impact is changing the ratio.

Vanessa Ogden

Chief Executive Officer and Headteacher, Mulberry Schools Trust

Vanessa is the CEO of Mulberry Schools Trust. The family of secondary schools within the trust is committed to raising standards in challenging contexts and includes Mulberry School for Girls, Mulberry Academy Shoreditch, Mulberry University Technical College, as well as two pre-opening schools, Mulberry Academy London Dock and Mulberry Nursery and Primary School. Under Vanessa’s leadership, Mulberry School for Girls has been rated “outstanding” in two successive Ofsted inspections. Vanessa is a designated national leader of education (NLE) and undertakes school to school support. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, with a doctorate specialising in education policy and school improvement.
“Dr Ogden combines kindness, fierce determination and intellect in her leadership at Mulberry School for Girls. Her desire for social justice underpins everything she does. From her vision to her faith in her staff and students, she always goes above and beyond to ensure disadvantaged girls are receiving a quality education and the opportunities they deserve. Vanessa’s commitment to a more gender-equal world through the power of education has even had global reach. Her ‘can do’ attitude is infectious, and students and colleagues alike have great respect for her.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
As a public servant in education, my leadership must have at its core an unswerving commitment to uphold the dignity of the human person. Central to this are respect, mutuality and reciprocity, all of which require kindness. One cannot educate or develop another professionally by making them feel lesser: they must see all that they can be – and more – and a leader's task is to make sure they can achieve it.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Truly valuing a person with whom you are dealing creates a respectful reciprocity and trust. Money is not the only currency by which you trade. People will come back to you if they believe they can rely on your integrity to do right by them.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
Once, I was challenged about why a child in my school would only get one GCSE, affecting the school's public performance scores very negatively. I explained that the prognosis for this child was that she would pass away aged 13 – but that the care and kindness of teachers looking after her was keeping her alive. She stayed seven years beyond prognosis (for which we flexed normal post-16 rules), delighting in her time. The deep impact of kindness.

Trudy Nickels

Director, The Brompton Fountain

Trudy is an inspiration to everyone she meets. She is the Director of the Brompton Foundation, a charity that supports children with serious medical conditions who are under the care of Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK. While her own child was sick in hospital, she began volunteering to help other families in the same hospital, and in a short period, she became invaluable to patients, doctors and nurses in the department. She began running the hospital charity, transforming it from a small-scale, £6kpa organisation to one that raised almost £300kpa in 2018. When the unit risked closure, she campaigned successfully in parliament to keep it open. She started world-first antenatal support groups for parents expecting babies with heart disease. And on top of it all, she serves as a passionate advocate for patient rights, while working on NHS national groups.
“Trudy is so humble and has a core of altruism. In hospitals, charities usually think of patients only – Trudy always thinks of the entire team, creating common bonds between staff and patients. She is entrepreneurial, raising almost £300k pa with a team of volunteers, and her social media channels are a huge support for thousands of families, staff and patients.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
I believe that kindness is important for all of us, whatever role we are in. I was lucky to have been taught by my mother at a young age how incredibly vital it is that we care for each other and to always have consideration for the feelings of the people we encounter throughout life. Even more so when in a position of authority and leadership, when leading by example is the key to a successful team.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Showing kindness to colleagues highlights their value, helps to provide a balanced working environment and encourages well-being, which in turn increases productivity and commitment. In my area of business, the charity sector, where many team members are volunteers who give up their time and energy for free, this importance is even more so. We have compassion, empathy and kindness at the heart of everything we do.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
In my opinion, it is often the small acts of genuine kindness, on a daily basis, that make the biggest impact. Giving a little extra time getting to know the team, to teach and to understand their needs, makes a big difference.

Susie Hills

Co-Founder and Joint Chief Executive Officer, Halpin Partnership

Susie is Joint CEO and Co-Founder of Halpin Partnership, a management consultancy. She is a widely respected consultant in higher education and has expertise in governance and fundraising. She’s a big thinker with a creative mind and an exceptional ability to cut through the confusion to see the way ahead. Always leading by example, she is collaborative, empathetic and an incredibly hard worker. Prior to her current role, Susie led a campaign at the University of Exeter, raising £25m.
“Susie has championed kindness in leadership at Halpin from the start, always leading by example. She has started up @TeamKind1 on Twitter to celebrate and highlight examples of kindness in leadership (and the world in general). Kindness forms the basis of our team culture and manifesto (kindness to ourselves, our clients, each other and the planet). Examples of the way in which Susie inspires kindness can be found all around her, in all areas of her life and work.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
People are lonelier, more stressed and more anxious than ever before. We are experiencing huge levels of uncertainty politically, economically and environmentally. At times like this, kindness is urgently required. We crave it. Kindness connects us and enables us to flourish. Leaders can create teams in which kindness is valued, celebrated and used as a guide for success.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness enables us to make smart long-term decisions, to consider the impact we have. Kindness enables us to value our team, our suppliers, our customers and the wider community. Kindness pushes us to be more inclusive and consider our impact as we work. We can profit, but not at all costs.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
People value the truth and crave feedback. However, their ability to respond and develop relies on the truth being delivered with kindness. Kindness requires you to truly listen, understand someone else's situation and be willing to support them. Delivering truth with kindness is an act of leadership that everyone can choose to do.

Stephen Gould

Managing Director, Everards Brewery

Stephen joined Everards Brewery in 2003 and was appointed Managing Director in 2005. He has embraced the culture and history of Everards and with a very clear, societal-led purpose, he has outperformed the food and beverage sector by balancing commercial and social gains. Stephen and his team continue to innovate, invest and perform, always anchored by Everards’ mission to build relationships with business owners and communities.
“Stephen’s leadership is centered around inclusive societal purpose for business growth. His values – straightforward, supportive, ambitious, responsive and integrity – underpin a collaborative, problem-solving approach. Everards Meadows Project, a vibrant £30m leisure and tourism destination, opened in July this year. Having a kind, open and connected approach has also built trust with statutory authorities, resulting in tens of millions of pounds worth of value being created by securing property planning consents, previously seen as challenging to achieve.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
A leader is part of a broader community, both within the organisation and beyond. Learning and growing in every sense requires everyone to be connected: to listen, share, build confidence and create sustainable teamwork. A kind, inclusive approach offers everyone the opportunity to contribute to developing innovative and vibrant communities.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
A business needs a clear purpose underpinned by a strong set of values to succeed. Kindness binds these together. Attracting people to an organisation and retaining them, be they team members or customers, only really happens if the company has integrity and authenticity at its centre. Kindness creates an environment where mutual respect encourages everyone to grow personally and professionally. Business life can also be challenging; ensuring that everyone's contribution is valued builds resilience and confidence in the future.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I have been fortunate over many years to be guided and supported by kind leaders. Common themes in all were that they gave their time freely to me and were very patient! Young people in particular watch leaders very closely and expect to be inspired by them. Within Everards, such inspiration is provided by the Everard Family, led by Richard (chairman), where leadership creates an environment of custodianship, care and a desire for each individual to be happy and fulfilled.

Sarwjit Sambhi

Chief Executive Officer, Centrica Consumer, Centrica

Sarwjit has been CEO of Centrica Consumer UK for the past six months. After spending 18 years at Centrica, he is now in a position to drive the future agenda of the company. In recognising that many businesses have a “compassion deficit”, Sarwjit is working across all levels of the company to bring kindness to both colleagues and customers. He doesn’t just talk about the importance of compassion and empathy, he has begun implementing a series of programmes that change the “system” and the organisational culture. His transformative leadership style focuses on the leaders themselves and, at the same time, focuses on people over process. Just one example of the initiatives put in place by Sarwjit is the establishment of Learning Academies, where colleagues can learn from each other and take courses. Over 31,000 people took courses in 2019!
“Operating in the energy sector, which can be perceived as a world of blue corporate suits and patriarchal values, Sarwjit eschews the alpha role and demonstrates his own way of working. He practices gratitude and meditation and brings a reflective and thoughtful approach into his work. Sarwjit is a new type of CEO, one that takes the best from the past but seems to recognise that the world has moved on and that the most effective leadership skills are resilience, creativity and emotional intelligence.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
I believe that the most effective leaders today possess resilience, creativity and emotional intelligence. We need to recognise the world has moved on; instead of process we need to focus on people; instead of metrics we need to focus on empowerment. As leaders, the future for our organisations has to be that we become truly customer obsessed. We will only be able to achieve that when we first become colleague obsessed. For me, kindness is key to making that happen.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
As business leaders, what we can do is be kind and seek to understand. Truly listening to what our colleagues are saying allows me to understand the challenges they face on a daily basis and what’s getting in the way of delivering to our customers. Addressing these pain points for colleagues and customers is key to running a successful business.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
It takes many examples of kindness in leadership to have a truly significant impact. I practice what I’ve heard referred to as “nudges”, particularly when it comes to inclusion and recognition. Examples: my commitment to recognising ten colleagues each week; giving space to women when I notice them being interrupted in meetings and ensuring that less experienced colleagues get their chance to contribute too. These small actions, multiplied, is what I think it takes to make a lasting change.

Salim Janmohamed

Director, Karali Group

Salim has always been in the fast food industry and worked his way up to the point where he could take the leap to go out on his own. Today, his company is the largest independent franchisee of Burger King (90+) in England. Named the Karali Group, it employs over 2000 members of staff, and Salim’s ethos – honesty, integrity and passion – delivers results. In addition, Salim had the vision and passion to create his own restaurant brands, including: Sticky Sisters, Roosters and El Taco Loco. He has also volunteered in the Ismaili community for over 30 years in multiple positions, including: Pastoral Care Leader; External Relations Representative and currently, Chairman of the Economic Planning Board.
“Kindness and leadership have only recently been referred to as effective tools for growth, change and achievement. However, Salim has been encouraging this message for many years in meetings, discussions and in his company. Salim pushes you to give more than you thought you were capable of, leading to fantastic results. What is more impressive is that he does this by encouraging you to work with new people to allow for dynamic interaction, improving your own communication capabilities and resulting in even more magic being created.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Being considerate and kind is important in any era, as it transcends culture, politics and economics. It is about humanity, in order to develop a positive organisational culture that is socially responsible, pluralistic and inclusive.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness is imperative for any business to succeed, as it empowers people to strive for the best, feeling supported and guided, knowing there is a culture of no fear – thereby adding to one’s well-being, growth of the individual and, in turn, the organisation.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Kindness creates an environment of trust, honesty and belonging, which filters through the organisation, resulting in a loyal and long-term workforce, thus reducing costs of recruitment, training, increased productivity, mentorship and growth. Ultimately, the success of the organisation couples with sustained, long-term profitability.

Sairah Ashman

Global Chief Executive Officer, Wolff Olins

Sairah is Global CEO at Wolff Olins, the creative consultancy famously described as “the perfect blend of maths and magic”, which operates from three global hubs across multiple geographies and forms part of Omnicom Group. Here, she leads business direction and performance, in partnership with her leadership team and local offices. Over a 20-year career, Sairah has built a reputation for creating high-performing teams and delivering both business transformation and outstanding results for clients. She is an active supporter of the House of St Barnabas, a charity working to break the cycle of homelessness, and a regular TEDx host and speaker.
“Many leaders are loud and want to make themselves known the minute they walk into a room. Not Sairah. She prefers the room of people to shine, rather than have the spotlight on her. Her leadership style is that of someone who is calm, a great listener and, most importantly, is kind. You feel this the minute you talk to her. By no means is she a pushover, but she manages to lead through careful words and actions.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
We all carry our own definition of kindness. For me, it’s about being considerate and respectful of others, acting in accordance with your values and striving to do the right thing. As leaders we set the tone, whether consciously or not, and in an environment often driven by short-term results there’s a danger that we lose sight of our essential humanity. Acting with kindness helps us to connect, relate and tackle issues together that we couldn’t alone.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
It’s easy to imagine kindness as a weakness or flaw in a business setting. The language used is so often characterised as a war to be won or a competitor to be defeated. Customers and employees expect more, and businesses that behave ethically, transparently and sustainably are increasingly rewarded with deeper commitment and loyalty. Businesses are powerful entities, and we expect them to make a positive contribution to society. You can call that kindness or just good business sense.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I think we’re only now starting to fully appreciate the vision and efforts of Paul Polman, who stepped down as Unilever CEO this year. Leaving them with the position and voice to lead on the deepest challenge of our times – sustainability. An incredible feat for one of the largest producers of packaged goods in the world. At a less visible level, I applaud the leaders around me acting with integrity and courage every day – it's hugely inspiring.

Rosemary Squire

Joint Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman, Trafalgar Entertainment

A respected advocate for cultural industries, Dame Rosemary Squire co-founded Ambassador Theatre Group in 1992, which went on to become the world’s number one live-theatre company. Her latest venture is Trafalgar Entertainment, home to Trafalgar Studios, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, Stagecoach Performing Arts and Trafalgar Releasing. She made history as the first woman to be named EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year, served as a national member of the Arts Council England board and is currently Joint Chair of the Hall for Cornwall. Rosemary was awarded an OBE for services to theatre and received a damehood for services to theatre and philanthropy.
“For Rosemary, kindness is a personal value that has shaped the working culture behind the highly successful live entertainment companies she co-founded – Ambassador Theatre Group and Trafalgar Entertainment. Rosemary is unfailingly generous and naturally inclusive – actively encouraging and celebrating individual achievement whether within her own company or in the industry. Her kindness and empathy in business results in happier and more loyal staff, customers and partners. Leading by example, she inspires and shapes the values and behaviour of her organisation, offering tireless, practical support for people in need of kindness – both at an individual level and as a philanthropist.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
As leaders, we are in the enviable position of being able to influence the values and behaviours of our team – often by example. A culture of kindness in the workplace helps to build the sense of real connection and shared purpose that are so often missing in today’s unpredictable and disconnected world. For me, kindness has been crucial in building an inclusive, responsible and empathetic community at work.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Relationships and networks are really important to the theatre business – it’s a small world. In my experience, kindness has made sound business sense by helping us to hold on to talented people over many years. Good people who flourished in the kind of environment we wanted to build were keen to stay with us through good times and bad – the kindness worked both ways.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
When our chairman, Greg Dyke, was director-general of the BBC, he was convinced that the future of the BBC lay in being more creative – but that this wouldn’t happen unless its employees felt protected when taking risks. He gave the simple undertaking to “have their backs” when they experimented – even when it didn’t work. This simple act of empathy acknowledged staff fears around doing things differently and signposted a way through, with kind support from the very top.

Ron Kalifa

Chairman, Network International

Ron is Chairman of Network International, a fast-growing payments company previously owned by private equity. He also serves in non-executive director roles for Transport for London and the Hundred England and Wales Cricket Board. Ron served as Vice Chairman of Worldpay until 2019 and as its global CEO between 2001 and 2013. During his tenure, he developed the business from a small start-up to a FTSE 100 IPO in London – and then took it through two multibillion-dollar mergers with US-based companies, Vantiv and FIS. In 2018, Ron was awarded an OBE for services to financial services and technology.
“Ron has worked at the highest level of public and commercial life in the UK and internationally. A core driver of his success comes from his ability to show true, unreserved interest in the needs of others, not simply his own. He is personable, loyal and trusting. These characteristics mean that he doesn’t simply draw on his network to suit his own professional goals, but is generous with his time, encourages autonomy and gives recognition where due. He never stops establishing new connections, which in turn give him (and others) new opportunities and different ways to think about complex situations.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness and leadership should be symbiotic – both embody empathy, honesty, transparency and authenticity, qualities that every interaction should incorporate. These qualities create a culture within organisations. Kindness is proven to make people happier; they will be more productive because people will care. Businesses are always looking for differentiators, and the way people get treated needs to become the new norm in creating value-add that will resonate with employees, customers and leaders.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Businesses are made up of people. All want to be treated fairly in interactions. This builds trust and loyalty – these qualities are also then the way that individuals will treat others, colleagues and customers alike. It’s a virtuous circle which reinforces and drives success for all. People are impacted by how they are treated.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Keep the interests of your most valuable resource, your people, at the heart of your thinking. They are the ones who make the difference. They interact with your customers, convey the values and practices of your company. You can’t control those nuanced interactions, but you can control how your people feel about you as a leader and your company. Remember that people will not remember what you did or said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Rim Adem

Senior Surveyor, CBRE

Rim joined CBRE as a graduate surveyor in 2014. She worked in the petroleum and automotive sector and developed strong relationships with large corporate clients, which led to the creation of new job roles, driving additional revenue for the organisation. In addition to her current role as a senior surveyor within the business, Rim is the Co-Network Lead for CBRE’s Multicultural Network, the wellbeing champion for her team and one of CBRE’s mental health first aiders.
“Rim is inclusive and likes to ensure that everyone is accounted for, irrespective of personal differences. As the Co-Lead of the Multicultural Network, she constantly seeks ways to involve people from all parts of the business. She is genuine in her approach and cares for those working around her, both in her immediate team or company-wide working groups. She readily supports colleagues and clients by being a good listener and providing advice using her knowledge and experience.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Leaders are entrusted with inspiring and motivating their workforce to be the best possible versions of themselves. Kind leaders who genuinely care about their employees and adopt a warm approach illicit far greater levels of trust and loyalty. Greater levels of commitment can only serve to encourage individuals to remain within a company and progress within their existing business. Improved staff retention also contributes to a reduction in costs associated with recruitment and training of new talent.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
In an ever-changing business environment, we need individuals who are capable of creative thinking and finding the solutions that enable businesses to thrive. Kindness is a key driver in promoting happiness amongst employees. It encourages everyone to bring their whole selves to work, which in turn leads to greater productivity and the space to think critically and to challenge the status quo, with a view to finding solutions for tomorrow’s problems. Beyond making business sense, it's the right thing to do.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
A previous manager always made a point of treating us with respect and rewarding our team for our hard work on a regular basis. He worked us incredibly hard but constantly provided opportunities for growth, and we quickly became a team of individuals who excelled in our respective roles and were capable of performing tasks which often went over and above what was expected of us. This combination meant we always met and exceeded targets.

Rachel Higham

Managing Director of IT, BT

Rachel is BT’s Managing Director of Information Technology and leads 14,000 people globally. She’s accountable for designing, building, testing, operating and securing BT’s IT, using IT innovation to provide effortless experiences that turn ideas into reality – for both customers and colleagues. Recognising that a diverse, inclusive culture is key to achieving this, Rachel acts as a role model and expects inclusive mentoring and coaching from her team. She’s passionate about sharing learning and devotes time to mentoring a range of professionals. Rachel is also Executive Sponsor of BT’s TechWomen programme, where she shares her own vulnerabilities and strategies for success, while inspiring over 500 BT women all over the world.
“Rachel leads by example – her door is always open. She’s created an energy across her team, the wider BT and partners, that has spread, quite literally, around the world due to her passion and determination. In turn, this influences our direction and success as a company. The amount of time she dedicates to people, at an organisational and individual level, whilst succeeding in her own highly accountable role, is awe-inspiring. From technical topics right through to corporate social responsibility related projects, Rachel is engaged, approachable and passionate, ensuring people, in every situation, feel valued.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
As our ways of working evolve and demand more diverse, empowered teams and inclusive cultures, leaders need to shift from top-down management to being in service of their teams. To truly be in service requires a humility that we don’t know everything, a curiosity to deeply understand the needs of our teams and the challenges they face, and a new level of trust and empathy that comes from that understanding. This starts with kindness and generosity of spirit.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Small acts of kindness from leaders delight and surprise our teams, inspiring them to pass forward similar acts of kindness. Kind teams are respectful, actively listen, appreciate each other and collaborate better, through higher levels of trust and empathy. Kind teams massively outperform their peers, and I think have much more fun along the way!
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I love it when senior figures share their stories. It’s rare for one of those stories not to include many acts of kindness from people, who were impactful in the moment with a word of encouragement, providing a connection or insight. When those stories are most impactful, they include the stumbles and doubts we’ve all faced – these inspire others to embrace opportunity and pick themselves up from their own stumbles, to become the next generation of leaders our future needs.

Pamela Harper

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Halcyon Days

Pamela has 35 years of experience in retail and wholesale of global luxury brands in the UK and France. She is Chairman and CEO of both Halcyon Days and Caverswall China. Pamela is passionate about the development of youth skills and talent and never tires of promoting and cherishing British craftsmanship and manufacturing. She is a business mentor to The Prince’s Trust and supporter of Walpole, the official sector body for over 250 of the UK’s finest luxury brands. She will serve as President of the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association from 2021 to 2022. Pamela also supports many charities, including Back-up Trust UK; Age Concern UK; The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust; The Royal British Legion and cancer charity AVEC, France.
“Pamela is a highly acclaimed entrepreneur: intelligent, professional and always showing impressive business acumen and unwavering support to others including her employees and business partners. She doesn’t put commercial interests ahead of her true intention to support, allowing others to embrace her kindness. She is also patient in listening to others and finding ways to improve the process so that all can enjoy a better working environment.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness has always been essential, as much in business as in one's personal life. It's essential because it gets the best out of people, providing motivation and the ability to perform to their best.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Because kindness motivates people, and a motivated team is the best for performance. In the context of the question, kindness in a business sense is all about the achievement of business goals and objectives, whether tangible or intangible. Kindness in leadership is essential because a team, in my experience, swings behind a leader to deliver when they are motivated by a strong sense of partnership and dedication towards common goals.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
It’s very difficult to highlight one instance, but one which has touched my heart was a lady who I helped 15 years ago, by creating a business strategy for growth. She got back in touch and told me that, thanks to me and what I did for her in those early years, she was able to sell her business for many millions of dollars. Her way of thanking me was to offer any assistance I need, gratis, in the American market.

Nafisa Bakkar

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Amaliah

Nafisa is the Co-Founder and CEO of Amaliah and a recognised expert on the representation of Muslim women. Working with global brands to improve Muslim representation across media and advertising, Nafisa has built a community of over 300 Muslim women contributors for articles, podcasts, videos and events, with many publishing their work for the first time. Nafisa’s leadership amplifies the voices of Muslim women – making her a role model for women of colour who aspire to be changemakers. She also works with 23 Code Street in running a coding scholarship for Muslim women.
“Nafisa is constantly putting others and community at the centre of Amaliah’s work. Her generosity is a beacon for her team and for the Amaliah community. She gives her time to help others: she is on the board for the EY Foundation and YSYS, diversifying the tech and startup ecosystem, and volunteers with Muslamic Makers and Muslim Women Connect.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
In a world where so much is measured by the impact on bottom lines, it is important we centre kindness to ensure we are not reducing individuals to the economic value they offer to the world. Kindness truly makes the world go round; I believe we are all guardians of the world and our leadership cannot merely be measured by monetary metrics.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Where we are today is down to individuals who have been kind enough to give us time, access to resources, advice and help. I truly believe businesses are built on the relationships that you nurture, and kindness and goodwill are key components to nurturing any relationship. There is often an idea that you have to be “cut-throat” in order to build a business, and I simply believe the opposite is true in many cases!
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I think someone like Stormzy is an example of a leader with a platform who continues to use it for the benefit of others where he can, from a scholarship for black students at the University of Cambridge, to speaking out on Grenfell and the government, and his imprint Merky books, dedicated to publishing a new generation of voices. His desire to use his platform to benefit communities that are often sidelined is a form of kindness.

Margaret McCabe

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Debate Mate

Margaret is the Founder and CEO of Debate Mate, a global business offering life-changing opportunities to young people trapped in cycles of poverty, with programmes that teach communication and leadership skills in schools and businesses. Debate Mate programme partners include Goldman Sachs, Rolls-Royce, BP and Harvard Business School. Prior to starting Debate Mate in 2008, Margaret ran a successful private legal practice.
“Margaret believes that kindness is everyone’s strength and superpower, delivering academic, professional and business excellence. Everything Debate Mate does is based on three different types of kindness: kindness to yourself, kindness to each other and kindness to the world. It infuses through all aspects of the business and starts from a commitment to changing the lives of the most marginalised in the charity. Debate Mate students are future leaders who learn that compassion and kindness are central skills to success. Given the results since Debate Mate began, kindness is the future business model.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Strength is essential for the leader of a successful global company tackling one of the world’s most serious problems. Kindness gives strength and is at the core of our programmes and corporate culture.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness is our key strength and integral part of Debate Mate, and it is the blueprint and foundation of how we can change the world. Our programmes are rooted in kindness, by instilling communication, confidence and compassion in staff and students.Through supporting personal growth, our methodology results in our students feeling empowered, fearless and keen to share what they have learned with others in their community. They become winners.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, my staff were dispatched immediately to provide essential emergency services to survivors. They worked night and day. Their kindness, compassion, focus and resilience provided a backbone of support for the Harrow Road community. Additionally, we raised vital supplies and funds for the community.

MaameYaa Kwafo-Akoto

Senior Associate, Allen & Overy

MaameYaa is a Senior Associate in the Funds & Asset Management team at Allen & Overy (A&O). She has been recognised for her work in establishing a networking group for junior black lawyers at A&O and was instrumental in founding A&O’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic committee. MaameYaa’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and her many recommendations presented to A&O’s board have made a significant impact on improving diversity in Saudi Arabia, evidenced by the number of women in senior positions. MaameYaa helped introduce A&O to AfriKids, a charity based in Ghana. Over the course of a two year relationship with AfriKids, A&O staff and partners have contributed £1.37m and delivered 35 pro bono projects
“MaameYaa can be seen to embody kindness by the impact she has made in pursuit of advancing social-mobility and diversity in the legal profession. Her commitment to removing the obstacles she faced early in her career has changed lives for young people and inspired creativity and purpose where role models do not exist. Her ability to make bold decisions has transformed organisations, and her impact has pushed boundaries for women across the Middle East. A strong advocate of collaboration, MaameYaa works with colleagues across Allen & Overy to achieve her vision of promoting diversity and creating a culture of kindness.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
I have come to recognise that great leaders have the qualities of kindness that are essential to creating an environment of warmth, trust and loyalty. Understanding the demands on individuals and showing some empathy builds tremendous opportunity to build long-lasting relationships that cannot be achieved without thoughtfulness and a desire to help and support colleagues.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness is fundamental to developing relationships, and building relationships is the most important aspect of business – business without kindness does not make sense. The spirit of kindness is what inspired Allen & Overy to support the establishment of institutional investor, Invest in Her. Invest in Her is a forum to bring women together who work at institutional investor organisations. Our vision is to create a platform for women to share knowledge, network and find mentoring opportunities.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Allen & Overy's leadership team understands that people are increasingly choosing employers who treat them with respect and value individuality. The partners at A&O have invested their time and support causes such as its BAME group. A&O’s BAME group is a support network with the aim of retaining diverse talent. I am passionate about helping these individuals reach their full potential. Inspired by this kindness, I have a number of mentoring relationships and work with organisations globally to effect change.

Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE

Chief Defence Logistics and Support, MOD

Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE is Chief of Defence Logistics and Support for the British Army. With over 27 years of service, he is a senior leader with a wealth of experience from a wide variety of posts, including Assistant Director Manning; Director Plans, Army; Chief of Staff, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and, most recently, Director of Army Basing and Infrastructure. He has served around the globe including in Hong Kong, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, Germany and the UK as well as operationally in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“General Wardlaw leads with a human touch. Despite carrying significant responsibility and a punishing personal workload, he embodies the very best of modern military leadership. Personable, approachable, engaging and caring, he always places people at the heart of his focus. He makes every individual feel personally valued, at every level of seniority or role within the organisation; nothing is too much trouble when it comes to his people. The people-first approach that he has fostered throughout his command consistently enables him to deliver enormous business output and lasting positive business change from his small but highly motivated team.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
The irony of today’s world of work is that we have never been better connected, but often at the expense of time invested in personal working relationships. If you believe, as I do passionately, that it is kindness that is vital in nurturing and sustaining any relationship, then its place at the heart of a modern workforce has never been more important.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
In my experience, kindness is a prerequisite for growing the respect, trust and confidence that are the cornerstones of high-performance teams and that sustains them over time. As a business leader, if team performance, maintaining a position of competitive advantage and success matter, then kindness is vital.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
There is no significant endeavour that does not entail commitment, sacrifice and a preparedness to go the extra mile. The demands on each of us individually can be great. Most of the time that is fine. But when circumstances challenge this commitment, such as I have witnessed recently through the death of close relations of my work colleagues, it is kindness that counters despondency, accelerates recovery and sustains the team to meet its objectives.

Les Matheson

Chief Executive Officer, Personal Banking, RBS

Les joined RBS in 2010 and became CEO of RBS Personal Banking in 2014. He leads a team of 25,000 employees throughout the UK, Ireland and India. Under his leadership, Personal Banking reported an overall operating profit of £2.5bn in 2018, contributing 52% of the organisation’s total income. Les is one of 12 members of RBS’s Executive Committee, and is also the bank’s Executive Sponsor for Gender. His sponsorship and his relentless focus on improving workplace behaviours has helped significantly improve the proportion of women in senior roles in RBS.
“In his role as the bank’s Executive Sponsor for Gender, Les proactively champions gender equality both inside and outside the bank. He has helped to build a more gender balanced organisation which better reflects the diversity of our customer base, allowing us to anticipate our customers’ needs better. During the past four years, his sponsorship has helped increase the proportion of women in senior roles from 29% to 36%.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness has always been an essential part of true leadership. You can only be a leader if people choose to follow you, and the only way to inspire genuine commitment is by treating others with respect, being honest and showing compassion – all elements of kindness. Humans are social creatures, and we thrive when we work together and support each other – that’s always been true and is no less true in today’s world.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness involves treating everyone with respect, and we know that creating a diverse and inclusive workplace results in a range of business benefits. Kindness might also involve noticing when someone is struggling and helping them to be better able to bring the best of themselves to work. Or it could involve celebrating colleagues’ successes, so they feel truly valued and motivated to give more back. There are many different facets to “kindness”, all of which create long-term business benefits.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
The real value of kindness is the difference it can make for individuals. For example, as a bank, we’re committed to supporting good mental health. By talking openly and showing kindness, we’ve created a culture where colleagues are better able to ask for and receive the help they may need. For those people, this can be life-changing, and the benefits ripple out to their family, their co-workers and to the bank too. What could be more significant than that?

Leena Nair

Chief Human Resources Officer, Unilever

Leena is the Chief HR Officer at Unilever and a member of the Unilever Leadership Executive. She ensures the company has the right people in the right roles, with the right capabilities and mindset to help Unilever meet its ambitious business growth goals, while contributing positively to the society and the planet. Leena is responsible for creating a more human and inclusive workplace environment and articulates her purpose as “igniting the human spark to build a better business and a better world”.
“The defining quality of Leena’s leadership is abundance and positivity. She provides continuous encouragement and inspiration to her team. She will challenge them to be their best, reach their potential and care enough to speak hard truths. She is also passionate about creating an inclusive environment for all, irrespective of people’s backgrounds, culture, gender or sexual orientation. This means equal opportunity, psychological safety, fairness in the workplace and celebrating the good things. She has implemented an enterprise-wide programme to help people find their purpose and to align their work with that purpose.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness is essential in allowing leaders to connect meaningfully with their people in today’s world. Without that connection, it is almost impossible to lead with empathy and authenticity. This connection also allows for better collaboration and conversation, which will almost always lead to better results for everyone involved.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness is not only the right thing to do in the workplace, but it also makes business sense. We know that for every $1 we invest in well-being, we get a return of $2+. By emphasising a culture of kindness, we can reduce unnecessary stress for our people and focus on supporting them in delivering our business objectives more effectively.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
We have been running purpose workshops for nearly 50,000 of our people globally. These workshops focus on helping them find their individual purpose and opportunities to bring that alive in the work that they do. By having our leaders involved in these, it helps create a space for conversation and kindness. 92% of our people who feel that they can live their purpose at work, have said they will go the extra mile.

Kim Rowell

Assistant Editor, BBC Stories

Kindness is an intrinsic part of Kim’s nature. Starting out as a runner, she worked hard to progress, but upon seeing the hierarchical structures and associated pressures inherent within the media industry, she vowed to “be the change” she wanted to see. Kim has since spent years mentoring and volunteering within companies including ITV, Channel 4, The Telegraph and now as an Assistant Editor at the BBC. She received the Women of the Future Media Award in 2018. Mental health, kindness and collaboration are hugely important parts of Kim’s remit; the impact this ethos has brought to her working environments has been extraordinary.
“Kim has always acted as both a manager and a friend to me – her personable approach being something I greatly respect about her. More widely within the team, by showing trust in her staff’s judgement, she inspires and motivates, ultimately producing work with passion at its core. As my Commissioning Editor, she has always shown belief in my ideas, a confidence that has helped me to personally develop and push myself as a Producer/Director. Kim’s empathetic management approach nurtures a positive work environment, where everyone supports one another, cultivating a strong teamwork ethic within our department and for the business as a whole.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
You can’t be a leader, or an effective and respected one at least, without being kind. It’s so often perceived as a weakness but for me is undoubtedly one of the strongest attributes you can bring to a successful, people-focused organisation. It’s not just kindness, it’s empathy – finding a common ground with the people you work with and for, acknowledging and embracing the unique talents that everyone in your workforce brings to the table.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
To have kindness is to have understanding and compassion for where people are coming from, an affinity that goes beyond KPIs. Your team and the people that comprise it become part of an essential transaction, and you get back what you put in, ten-fold. Many workforce frustrations are steeped in efforts not acknowledged or talents going unrecognised. By sprinkling in an element of kindness, appreciation and gratitude, I’ve seen how projects and overall business plans can thrive as a consequence.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I was once told that I wasn’t the right leader to move a department forward; I wasn’t ruthless. It was true, I shone a light on my own struggles and flaws to alleviate those in others, so they might be liberated to do the same. My personal and professional investment in my team has always paid dividends; there’s no better feeling than seeing them flourish. Never be afraid to be vulnerable; it’s humanising and people will thank you for it.

Kim Morrish

Director, Ground Control

Kim is a Non-Executive Director of Ground Control, a fast growing and multi-award winning landscaping and external services company based in Essex. Kim has focused on making Ground Control a great place to work, creating opportunities for professional progression and personal development and establishing an inclusive, diverse and friendly workplace. Following ten years of managing US international aid programmes in her early career, Kim recently founded Canterbury Partners, a social impact investment partnership that seeks out and backs entrepreneurs who have a clear vision of how to effect positive change in people’s lives.
“Kim is motivated to help other people in what she sees as real and practical ways, through direct action and cooperation. Outgoing, friendly, challenging and sympathetic, Kim radiates warmth and fellowship in her everyday interactions with everyone around her. Kim can generate positive energy and high morale within most groups, and her empathy ensures everyone in the group feels heard and valued. Kim has worked tirelessly to create a culture where people are at the centre of everything Ground Control does, and the team spirit within the business is a testament to her success.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." With the growing population and increasingly interdependent world, kindness, conscientiousness, and compassion are critical. We all need to get along, to think and act with the best interests of stakeholders. Leaders have a unique opportunity and responsibility to model kindness and compassion and shape the very essence of how their teams, organisations and communities work, as well as that of the wider world.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
In businesses, especially those relying on human capital, kindness is vital. How leaders treat, consider and invest in their people affects the operational and financial performance of the business. It directly influences the culture of business, having a major impact on commitment, dedication, engagement, collaboration, innovation, customer care, staff retention and doing the right thing.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I witness acts of kindness daily, which are contagious, inspirational and have a significant impact. A young boy who helps an elderly person struggling with walking, rushed commuters who stop to comfort a stranger waiting for emergency services, managers who make time to listen to employees needing support, and leaders who consider the impact of their decisions on their people in everything they do. These small but meaningful acts of kindness influence others and spread goodwill.

Katy Ritchie

Head of National Programmes, England and Wales Cricket Board

Katy is a customer-focused brand innovator with extensive experience in developing and managing national programmes. She is currently responsible for building awareness and growing the game, through several national programmes. One of these is AllStars Cricket, which to date has engaged over 100,000 children and over 2,000 clubs, giving children an incredible introduction to entry-level cricket. Katy has been instrumental in helping ECB achieve the impressive £1.2m bid to help engage 2,000 south Asian females in cricket, enabling them to become role models within their communities, learn new skills and develop new-found confidence.
“Katy is always present to support, elevate and drive her team forward at every possible opportunity, whether this is one-on-one or in front of internal and external stakeholders. Katy is a keen advocate of not only ensuring she knows everyone at every level, but she also takes pride in celebrating the successes of her teams as her own. No task for Katy is too big or too small, and as a true leader, she has created a culture where everyone feels welcome and able to express themselves and, frankly, a team everyone wants to be a part of.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
The world that we live in 2019 – with WhatsApp groups pinging and emails flying in – is a world in which it’s very easy to become selfish. There are so many things competing for our time; we struggle to get away from our phones, and the traditional work-life balance has completely evolved. A workplace underpinned by kindness creates a supportive environment that allows individuals to contribute more, to feel more included and, ultimately, to flourish.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness makes business sense because it brings superior results. If a leader is successful in creating a culture that is warm and considerate, the teams that they form are more united, more supportive and more focused. If individuals feel safe and comfortable, they will be prepared to make mistakes; they will be prepared to take risks and push boundaries. That brings around a creativity that can be so special, and that’s when businesses can be their most impactful.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Research indicates that South Asian women are, on average, the least physically active group in society. A recent ECB project has proved that sometimes you need to think differently in order to overcome difficult challenges. We required a different kind of workforce to deliver our City Partnerships Programme, to bring South Asian women into cricket and to make them feel at home. In order to break down barriers we needed inclusion and kindness – and it’s been remarkably successful.

Jürgen Klopp

Team Manager, Liverpool Football Club

Jürgen is one of the best known and most admired managers in sport. At Borussia Dortmund, he won the German league title twice, while at Liverpool he has won the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup. Reducing his career to sporting achievements, however, would be to downplay the importance of his character and outlook on life, both of which reflect an individual with a burning desire to succeed for others and a determination to act for the greater good. It is the combination of those factors, his excellence in his field and his larger-than-life character, which makes him one of the most revered modern leaders.
“Jürgen’s entire leadership model is built on the twin foundations of generosity of spirit and affection. From the famous post-match hugs he shares with his players, to his determination to ensure praise is afforded to others rather than himself, the Liverpool Manager fosters a feeling of togetherness and selflessness which is embraced by his team. His philosophy is: ‘If I am doing well, I want others to do well too’ – a sentiment that applies off the pitch as well as on the pitch.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
I don’t want to avoid the question but I think I have to point out that kindness is not only essential for leaders, whoever they may be, it is essential for all of us. We owe it to each other to be kind. That is very basic but it is also totally true.
From a team management point of view, this kind of leadership is all about relationships and consistency. If you can support and honour your team, not just when things are going well, they will thrive.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
From a sporting perspective, I believe leaders need to take responsibility for failure while sharing success with others, something that was made very real for me when Liverpool lost and won the Champions League finals in successive seasons. I praise players and try to take any criticism on my own shoulders. Developing authentic relationships with my players, through the good times and bad, always pays off in the long-term.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I see it every single day. This is not an exaggeration. I see leaders across the club thinking of others and putting others first. That is the same off the pitch as it is on the pitch. This kind of leadership is what gives sports teams the best possible chance of success because it breeds togetherness and a sense that we are all looking out for one another.
Personally, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where just by offering my time to others and by opening the doors of Liverpool Football Club, I have been able to play a role in the LFC Foundation raising significant funds which are put to good use in the local community.

Julian David

Chief Executive Officer, techUK

Julian oversaw the dramatic transformation of techUK from its predecessor, Intellect. By creating momentum and pace in the conditions required for the tech industry to thrive, and with an increased focus on capturing the opportunity for growth and jobs, he has developed a trusted, recognisable brand that represents the UK technology industry within government – and he has promoted it internationally. techUK’s mission is to make the UK a great place for technology companies to start, grow and scale, and to ensure technology is applied to benefit UK businesses and people.
“Julian leads the techUK team with a keen sense of direction and focus and a large dose of humour. It is a happy place to work and, given the size of the team, it achieves enormous breadth and depth of influence and leverage. Julian believes that personal values matter; therefore, everyone at techUK is encouraged to embrace the values they have adopted of Pride, Respect, Courage, Generosity and Integrity. Bringing these values to life through kindness is not a soft option or an abdication of high standards but instead the best way to inspire people to give of their best and work as a team to achieve excellence from everyone.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Today, people are aware of the major challenges facing modern society, from climate change to ageing populations, minority rights and equality. All of this means that employees in every type of organisation want to know how their business has a purpose above just shareholder returns. As always, they look to their leaders to demonstrate values and behaviours such as respect, generosity, integrity, pride – which can be summed up in one word: kindness.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Today, organisational success depends ever more on people ... people who are motivated and empowered, encouraged and engaged. Technological advances and changes in business models mean that flexibility, innovation and invention are essential to success and longevity. People must feel confident and supported to experiment, to innovate and, yes, to fail from time to time. Talent is in short supply, and businesses will not get the talent they need if, at heart, they are not kind to the people they employ.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Nelson Mandela – jailed for 27 years on terrorism/freedom struggle charges – could have been a vengeful, angry president when finally elected to lead South Africa. Instead, he chose reconciliation and kindness. I can still remember the image of him at the Rugby World Cup final in 1995, in the heartland of Afrikaner sport, wearing the number 6 Springbok jersey and celebrating with Francois Pienaar. This approach surely helped South Africa achieve a much better and less violent transition from white rule.

Joanna Place

Deputy Governor, Chief Operating Officer, Bank of England

Joanna has played an instrumental role in the transformation and modernisation of central services within the Bank of England. As the bank’s policy responsibilities and staff numbers have grown, her stewardship has enabled colleagues to focus on achieving key policy and supervisory goals. Joanna is the bank’s gender champion and has pushed forward numerous initiatives to improve diversity, with women now accounting for 46% of bank staff below senior management and 32% at senior management level, an increase of 15% since 2013.
“The Bank of England can be an intimidating place to work, both intellectually and in terms of its hierarchy. Jo does an incredible job of being both authoritative and accessible within that environment. She is not overly grand, yet garners huge respect from those above and below her. She is also universally kind; she doesn’t discriminate in her thoughtfulness, depending on rank. A new graduate will get the same level of concern as an executive director.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
People need to be able to trust their leaders. Today’s world is increasingly uncertain, so leaders need to be seen as people who can navigate this complexity for the right reasons. They need to be thoughtful and compassionate and be respected as individuals who can understand the needs of their people.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Leaders cannot do everything themselves. They need to lead people and deliver through them. Kind leaders are more likely to understand what motivates people and therefore more likely to create an environment where everyone can contribute to their full potential. Kindness leads to trust, and trust leads to respect. Not everyone will understand the complexity behind each decision, which is why they need to trust those who will be making those decisions on their behalf.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
Kindness means connecting with people, understanding when they need support, and providing that. This can range from supporting people on personal issues or supporting them on a work issue. Such acts, often small, can help increase confidence, motivation, capability and trust – and can significantly enhance their contribution at work.

Joanna Kingston-Davies

Chief Operating Officer, The Jackson Lees Group

Joanna is well known as a kind and authentic leader. She makes everyone in the business feel appreciated and has led a fundamental shift in culture, with leaders across the business adapting their approach to bring kindness to the centre of their leadership style. Joanna is an inspiration, a mentor and a role model. Not just to the people at Jackson Lees, but also to students – via thought-provoking speeches and her role as a governor in local schools.
“Joanna is the definition of kind, thoughtful and authentic leadership. She has been the main architect of a fundamental shift in the culture of our business. Law firms are not generally places where people feel able to be open and show vulnerability – however, Joanna has not just said that it is OK to be vulnerable, she has actually embedded it in our culture. Joanna celebrates the success of others and pushes others to the fore – her pivotal role in the development of our rising stars means that the future of our business sits in the hands of the next generation of kind leaders.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
In today’s fast-paced and relatively unstable world, togetherness has never been so important. We are stronger, better and healthier together than alone. A true sense of team and collective responsibility can be so easily nurtured and grown through kindness and compassion in leadership.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
A happy and engaged team will always give more of themselves, be more productive and have more fun! Kindness is good for our mental health and fosters a positive working environment, which in turn allows our people to have a much greater impact on themselves, their customers and their communities. We have one core value in our business – making a positive difference – a value based upon kindness that sits at the heart of everything we do.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
For me the biggest impact always comes from getting the fundamentals right, rather than through one single, great act. I think the most impactful leadership always comes from those who are accessible and take the time to acknowledge and speak to everyone, regardless of role or background – those who demonstrate kindness consistently, having recognised that it takes everyone within an organisation or community to contribute to its success.

Janet Pope

Chief of Staff and Group Director, Responsible Business and Inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group

Janet is Chief of Staff and Group Director of Responsible Business and Inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group, as well as a member of its executive team. She is also Executive Sponsor for LGBTQ+. Janet joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2008, bringing with her 26 years of experience in financial services. In her role, she is uniquely placed to impact culture, shape the company’s values and ensure focus is placed on the matters that mean the most to staff and customers. She also serves as Chair of the Charities Aid Foundation Bank, Trustee of the Banking Standards Board and Chair of Governors at Camden School for Girls.
“Janet has a proven track record of being an inspirational leader. She makes a deliberate effort to encourage a culture of openness, fairness and kindness, and she is immensely generous with her time and compassion. She has shown a firm commitment to increase diversity across the business, passionate about ensuring everybody has equal opportunities to succeed. Janet was responsible for the work that established Lloyds Banking Group as the first FTSE 100 company to set public targets focused on the number of female executives and BAME colleagues – a huge success lever that is now being replicated elsewhere.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
We all perform at our best when we are treated with respect and consideration and when we feel our endeavours are appreciated and acknowledged. Kind leaders foster a culture in which respect, consideration and appreciation are carefully nurtured, creating a supportive environment in which those they lead are encouraged and motivated to perform to the best of their ability. Kindness works, and it brings out the best in all of us!
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness brings out the best in everyone. Truly inspirational leaders understand that and put it into practice. They work hard to eliminate fear cultures and, through acts of consideration, enable those they lead to perform at a higher level. It all adds up to superior business performance.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact
Lloyds Bank has made the well-being of all colleagues a very high priority, especially the promotion of healthy minds. It has pioneered work on the promotion of mental health and physical resilience. This activity has been received as a gift, an act of conspicuous kindness, by colleagues. They feel supported and nourished. Colleague engagement continues to increase as a direct result of this activity.

Jane Evans

Founder, The Uninvisibility Project

Through the Uninvisibility Project, Jane empowers midlife women to tell their stories and uses her voice to amplify them. She’s working to change the narrative, to make women over 50 more visible and valuable to society. She’s creating a movement – offering these women opportunities to show the world who they are and what they’re capable of. Jane embodies Shine Theory – lifting up those around her and championing their brilliance. She wants to make a difference: in words and actions.
“Jane’s embodiment of Shine Theory extends to the way she leads; to the culture she creates around her and the way she works with, empowers and mentors others. She’s an advocate, an ally, a champion. She’s collaborative. She’s generous with her time. She listens. She makes you feel heard. She gives you space. She leads with compassion, with empathy, with understanding. With respect. Without judgement or preconception. With heart. With resilience. With guts. Because Jane is tough. She has to be. She takes no bullshit. The woman is a force. But, damn, is she a force for good”.

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Now that business is moving away from the patriarchal kill-or-be-killed career path, there is room for empathy and kindness for those whose voices are quieter and more considered. The opportunity to represent and collaborate with a more diverse personality pool brings fresh perspectives and unique ideas to the table. A forward-thinking business with a kind-hearted leader will always profit from listening to a wider viewpoint.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
No matter what your industry, all businesses are people businesses, and everything works better when people are valued and understood.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Almost every woman I interviewed for the Uninvisibility Project believed they were alone. They were struggling with unemployment or underemployment and pretending everything was OK, afraid to admit to their vulnerability or call out the discrimination they faced. By listening to their stories and speaking out for them, the women grew in confidence. Being part of a group who are changing the narrative has given them the drive to become “uninvisible” and to change the future for the next generation.

Jack Parsons

Chief Executive Officer, Big Youth Group

Jack is the CEO of Big Youth Group, a company created solely for the purpose of improving the odds for young people. He has appeared on panels, delivered public talks and mentored countless individuals. His current goal is to bring jobs, education, mentorship and health guidance and advice to two million young people across the UK.
“Jack is fully transparent with the whole team, from intern to PA. Everyone is given free reign to voice their opinions, and he welcomes your troubles with an empathetic ear. He has helped many people find their passion, guided countless young people in the right direction and is constantly promoting mental health awareness everywhere he goes. The team all believe in his goal to empower the youth, and it is amazing to see him at work.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Being a leader is all about lifting people up and letting them be the best version of themselves. It is essential for leaders in today's world because being kind not only has a direct effect on others, but it has a positive impact on yourself as well. I believe that you can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness makes business sense because it creates a great place for your team to work. It grows the connections between people and gives your business the cohesiveness and constancy it needs to thrive. A company of kindness creates a ripple effect that affects not only your young people but your customers as well. People who are empathetic and kind strengthen collaboration between colleagues and teams, plus it creates a greater experience for your customers.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Businesses all around us are now changing the way they operate and “do business”. It's not just how people work nowadays but how they create and live too which makes a better employee. There are a number of super cool companies that are really putting mental health and well-being at the forefront of their people, making a significant impact for people in the workplace. I love how companies are now starting to care about people's mental health.

Helen Kings

Managing Director, Touchstone

Helen is Managing Director of Touchstone, a multimillion-pound property management business. She has spent the last two and half years transforming the business, changing the culture, creating career progression, and adding new training and flexible working. Her work has seen the business crowned Employer of the Year and has driven growth, added high profile new clients and delivered a 4% margin improvement. That’s no mean feat in the highly competitive property management industry. Helen’s next step is to help transform the private rented sector.
“Helen’s leadership has transformed Touchstone, totally changing the culture and creating a happier, healthier workforce, with over 90% of colleagues saying they would recommend Touchstone as a brilliant place to work. She places huge importance on well-being and development. By really listening to colleagues and acting on their needs, she has improved mental health and well-being, which in turn has led to Touchstone’s growth and success.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness in leadership is everything. People naturally perform better in a happy, caring and supportive environment. As leaders, we’re responsible for creating those workplaces, helping people have a good work–life balance and supporting them to be their best in every way and at every level.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
People are any business's biggest asset. I firmly believe you get back what you put in by caring about people, by treating them with kindness and respect. People respond to an employer who they feel values them and their well-being. And when you have a workforce that feels valued, success follows as a result.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I’m proud to have made a real impact supporting mental health in the workplace. I introduced mental health first aiders to Touchstone, expanded our Employee Assistance Programme and I facilitated remote counselling. We now have a culture that allows people to be more open, discussing their mental health and allowing us to offer help before any issues become long-term problems.

Hayley Norford

Head of EMEA Operations, Invesco

Hayley has risen from administrator to the EMEA Executive Committee at Invesco. She comes to work for the people, and that has been evident throughout her 25-year career at the company. Regardless of the demands of the job, she always puts people first – being adept at absorbing the pressure of her own job while supporting her staff with an open-door policy. She always shows empathy and truly wants others to succeed and be recognised for their achievements.
“Hayley shows kindness to people in the most natural and authentic manner. The scope of her role at work has grown enormously, and with that has come increased responsibility for sizable teams, running into the hundreds. As a leader, it is inevitable that sometimes she has to pass on bad news, but she will always communicate honestly and with kindness. She has never seen leadership as a personal competition, and by setting the right tone from the top, the culture of the team follows”.

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
We spend a huge amount of time in the workplace, and so this needs to be an environment where people feel valued and included. This starts as simply by asking “How can I help you?”. If people feel you are interested in helping and supporting them, you create a safe environment where people will be much more likely to be open if there are any issues or concerns and more loyal and committed in their role.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness is often not appreciated as necessary in a business environment, yet treating each other “how you want to be treated” creates a positive working environment and company where the workforce is committed, collaborative and where they support one another to get the job done. I have worked for Invesco for 32 years, primarily because of the people I work with!
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
When we had a team redundancy situation, a number of the group had worked for the company for a long time and were concerned about the future and trying to secure new roles. We invested in supporting the team with CV writing, mock interviews and 121s, to offer support through this experience. The result was increased accuracy and productivity during the transition of the team and also a strong message to the remaining teams that we respect and support.

Ernestina Potts

Group Purpose and People Experience Manager, Virgin

Ernestina is Group Purpose and People Experience Manager at Virgin and Co-Founder of Milk Tooth, a jewellery business dedicated to statement earrings. After starting her career in TV production, Ernestina held a variety of roles in communications and brand, spending seven years at the BBC before joining Virgin Group in 2011. She is widely acknowledged as one of the most respected people in the business, driving innovative campaigns including a parental buddy system for new mothers whilst they’re on maternity leave and launching a cross-company mentoring system for senior women. Ernestina is not afraid to challenge the status quo and leads the gender and disability employee resource networks.
“Ernestina is someone you’re drawn too. She has ambitious goals, however, she empowers you to believe you can achieve them. This is a view shared by many who have worked for her. She works hard, achieves results, yet knows how to motivate and inspire those around her to deliver in a warm and kind way. Ernestina is someone you want to work for; you want to be in her team.”

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Emma Willis MBE DL

Founder ad Managing Director, Emma Wills and Style for Soldiers

Emma is the Founder of Emma Willis, the boutique bespoke shirtmaker located on the famous Jermyn Street, London. Emma first opened her store in 1999, and in 2010 she opened her English shirt making factory in the centre of Gloucester. She is passionate about traditional English shirt making techniques and employing local, skilled craftspeople. Ten years ago, Emma also founded the charity, Style for Soldiers. She has since personally met over 750 injured service personnel whom she has measured for a bespoke shirt at Headley Court Military Rehabilitation Centre. Emma has enlisted other British Brands (Marks and Spencer, Lock Hatters, Burberry, Russell and Bromley, London Sock Company and Mulberry to name a few) to provide the beneficiaries with bespoke walking sticks, suits, shoes and hats to assist with their transition into civilian life. The charity has also developed and now offers financial and career advice, counselling and well-being workshops amongst so many other initiatives.
“Emma shows kindness in all walks of life and has certainly made an impact on every beneficiary she has met through her charity. Style for Soldiers is described as a “family” and for some she has been a lifeline. Emma shows kindness within her own business too – she works very much on trust which can be felt in the company as everyone knows that their job is valued and we all work together to make the company run successfully. Everybody needs each other for the company to work.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness is respect for others, without which no one can expect to be respected. If it is at the heart of what you do, I believe this is rewarded by loyalty, which is essential for businesses to grow. Young people want to work for companies who they see care for the world and others and are not just ruthlessly pursuing profit.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Our business has been making complimentary clothing for severely injured service personnel and their supporting partners for over ten years through our charity, Style for Soldiers, adding meaning to jobs and increasing loyalty. We were awarded an Exemplar Employer Award for our employment of Syrian refugees and receive so much press as a result of our charitable rather than commercial work. HRH The Prince of Wales attended our Christmas reunion party and supports the charity – an invaluable association.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
We support over 700 injured service personnel and their partners, who I met on my eight years of tailoring visits to the military hospital, when so many were returning from Afghanistan with life-changing injuries. This support continues and I have engaged other brands to give clothing that is vital for confidence and new jobs following medical discharge. Brands and clothing include: M&S – over 750 suits, Reiss – over 400 suits, Burberry – 200 coats and Russell & Bromley – over 300 pairs of shoes.

Emily Csizmazia

Senior Inclusion and Diversity Manager, Lloyds Banking Group

Emily is a constant inspiration to those in and outside of work. From sponsorship programmes to colleague referral breakfasts and the development of new partnerships, Emily’s day-to-day role within the inclusion team means her projects have a direct impact on the culture of the organisation. Emily goes above and beyond her role too, not just to develop herself professionally, but to truly empathise with different cultures and broaden her awareness. She’s also a Councillor for Coxley Green and Founder of a personal project, Violet’s Gift.
“Emily’s levels of empathy are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a leader before – and it’s not all about big-bang gestures, it’s the simple things, like remembering key dates and little anecdotes that she’s heard. Because Emily is respectful of other cultures and beliefs, colleagues around her feel they can be their authentic selves at work and that they don’t need to stay quiet about things that are important to them. This was particularly prevalent during Ramadan, when Emily noticed how often we celebrate/reward success with food and drink and how excluding this was to Ramadan-observing colleagues. Emily expressed this sentiment in the office, and it was clear how much colleagues appreciated this.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Today’s world is complex, with each team member bringing unique experiences, motivating factors and challenges in both their professional and personal lives, to work. We can no longer have a “one-size-fits-all” approach when leading teams or projects, depending purely on management processes and hierarchy. Instead, we need to invest time in understanding the individuals within our team. Kindness and empathy as a leader are key to building trust, allowing individuals to open up about their true feelings.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness costs nothing but means so much. There are hundreds of studies showing the positive impact of kindness on business performance, retention and attraction. Kindness creates positive working environments where teams not only trust their leader but trust one another too – due to the contagious effect of kindness. Kind leaders also act as positive role models to colleagues, showing that nice people don’t finish last!
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
For me, kind leadership isn’t a once-off grand action or event. It’s the consistent, small, everyday actions that make such a difference, showing the human side of the leader and bringing everyone onto the same level. You’re never too important to hold a door open or ask someone how their weekend was. You know you’ve made an impact when colleagues feel they can trust you enough to open up and share how they’re really feeling.

Elliot Moss

Partner and Director of Business Development, Mishcon de Reya

Elliot is a Partner and Director of Business Development, responsible for brand, marketing, communications, client development, new business, international strategy and social impact. He also works with clients in developing both business and brand strategies. Elliot was one of Mishcon’s first non-legal partners, and in 2012 he was the first non-lawyer to be included in the FT’s list of top 10 innovative individuals in the legal sector. Since Elliot joined the firm in 2009, with the mission to “convert Mishcon from a famous name into a famous brand”, revenue and profit have both grown by more than 100%.
“Elliot understands that people are the most important part of business. With that in mind, he strives to ensure those he works with are happy and supported. Elliot is a great communicator, and his openness and willingness to discuss things with you means there is a culture of transparency and trust. As well as driving a results-driven and successful part of the business, Elliot knows that work should be fun too. If anyone is struggling, he makes sure they feel comfortable coming to him and talking about it.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Being kind creates a very deep emotional connection between people – towards each other, towards leaders and towards their organisations. Whilst business is highly competitive and often challenging, it is critical that we all remember we are human beings who have basic needs for care and appreciation beyond the financial. Leaders who are generous, understanding and give rather than take create a warm, safe and productive environment.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Generosity of spirit is infectious. It creates a happy, caring environment, which enables people to perform at significantly higher levels. A kind word, a genuine “Are you OK?”, a small gesture which takes the pressure off that person: these will all mean a lot beyond any financial rewards. Kindness improves productivity, happiness and loyalty. Happy people stay longer. Higher productivity leads to higher profitability, and higher retention leads to lower people costs.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Kevin Gold, our managing partner, always puts family before work. If your phone rings in a meeting – this happened in my first meeting with him – and it is a family member, he says, “Take the call.” We all say the same to our teams across the firm. Our family-first philosophy – as part of our core values – has helped our revenue grow by 300% in the last ten years. Not bad!

David Farrow

Head of International Corporate Banking, Barclays

David joined Barclays 29 years ago as an apprentice in Ipswich. He is a seasoned banker and inspirational leader. David is currently responsible for all Barclays Corporate Banking locations outside of the UK, with relationships with some of the bank’s largest clients. This global role has allowed him to understand different dynamics and working practices across the world and appreciate a vast variety of working cultures. David is the Executive Sponsor for the Corporate Bank’s multicultural agenda and is striving to break down barriers and make Barclays an inclusive employer – leading from the top.
“With possibly one of the most demanding roles in the Corporate Bank, David is very often travelling, typically in a different country every week. He shares the wealth of his experiences and learns with the teams around the world through his blogs – making each team member feel valued. By taking the time to share not only his experiences but showcase the successes of his teams around the globe, he creates a culture where colleagues are driven, feel proud to work in his business and ultimately feel respected. The result is that he leads the largest and best performing teams.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
The pace and pressure of today’s world can create an environment which de-prioritises how we form relationships and interact with each other and where we spend little time thinking about the impact we have on other people. This can damage confidence and ultimately performance – it’s key for leaders to set the right tone in order to show that how we treat each other is an essential part of running successful teams.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
All of us want to feel fulfilled in our lives, and work is a key ingredient of this. I have found that showing genuine interest in colleagues’ welfare and development generates loyalty, improved morale, clear purpose and, ultimately, high performance. It's vital that we value diversity in all its aspects, and showing how we value our colleagues as individuals ensures they feel able to bring their whole selves to work and perform to their potential.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Showing genuine interest, being present and sharing stories is a great way to demonstrate empathy and support. I have clearly seen the impact of this through acting as a sponsor to a number of colleagues on our female development programme. Throughout the programme, the value of a network, senior sponsorship and space to discuss ideas and issues, led to noticeable growth in confidence and, ultimately, success through promotion.

Chris Freeland

Chief Executive Officer, RAPP UK

Chris has ensured that RAPP has become a destination agency where the best people want to work. He has empowered his people to stand up proudly, not only for themselves and their differences, but also for causes about which they feel passionately. He’s a vital advocate for learning and development at RAPP and has helped to ensure an IPA Gold Accreditation for two years running for RAPP’s approach to people. Importantly, RAPP’s gender pay gap has reduced during his tenure, not least due to his vision for a fair and open workplace.
“Chris leads through a strategy of empowerment, trust and celebration of the fierce individuals who work at RAPP. He has encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit in many and fostered an inclusive and supportive workplace. Through his support, RAPP has stood up for mental health in the workplace, sexual harassment in the workplace, flexible working, unconscious bias and a balanced workforce – this year reducing our gender pay gap to under 20%.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Being a kind leader doesn’t mean being a weak leader. The world has moved on, so if organisations are to attract and retain the very best people, leading with empathy and respect is paramount. The tough decisions are perhaps needed more than ever, but it is possible and, arguably, more powerful, to make them with kindness. Trust will often follow, and with trust, leaders are able to build a strong, loyal and highly motivated workforce.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness has proven to have a measurable impact on people’s happiness, making for more motivated and engaged employees. It’s these people that will come up with the best ideas, nurture the most rewarding client relationships and collaborate most effectively with colleagues. Kindness is key to a healthy culture. A kind working environment enables individuals to flourish professionally and personally, whilst encouraging people to bring their whole selves to work, and never has it been more important to embrace diversity and individuality.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Working in a creative and highly pressured industry makes us all vulnerable to mental health issues, with some more susceptible than others. And that’s why I’ve ensured that everyone in the business now has access to Sanctus, a free and confidential counselling and coaching service, helping to ensure we take preventative and curative measures to address any wellness challenges as they arise. Being kind in this way helps with resilience and provides helpful and proven coping techniques.

Cathy Brown

Director of Strategy and Operations, Advancement, University College London

As Director of Strategy and Operations, Cathy heads up the identification and development of strategic fundraising partnerships. She also supports UCL with guidance and advice in their fundraising work, particularly on gift acceptance and due diligence. Cathy was formerly Joint Faculty Manager in UCL’s faculties of Arts and Humanities and Social and Historical Sciences, with responsibility for a variety of strategic projects, training and development. She has also worked as Faculty Manager of Laws at UCL and has held senior roles at King’s College London and VSO.
“Despite having a relentlessly busy diary, Cathy always makes time for others. She is an active listener and generous with her support and advice, helping to cut through the complexity of challenges to find empowering solutions. Her presence in any situation brings knowledge, clear-headedness, warmth, encouragement and integrity.”


Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Our lives – personal and professional – are ever more packed, fast-paced and stressful. It's essential that leaders are able to show kindness and respect to all colleagues at all levels, both in terms of enabling colleagues to feel comfortable at work and perform at their best, and also to showcase behaviour for the leaders of the future.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I work at a very senior level in an organisation of 14,000 employees and always ensure I treat everyone, from cleaning staff to the most senior leaders, with respect and kindness. As a result, even in such a complex environment, I am known throughout the organisation as someone who gets the best from her teams – and I'm regularly asked to speak at leadership events, so I am able to spread the message about kindness being an essential part of leadership.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Colleagues want to work with leaders who they can respect and who show respect for them. Kindness makes business sense in terms of good staff retention, motivation and in empowering colleagues to take risks and perform at their best.

Carolyn Stebbings

Managing Director, SVP Data & Technology, Code

An inspirational leader and industry powerhouse, Carolyn is strategically and financially accountable for Code, Omnicom’s leading marketing technology agency. One of Data IQ’s Top 100 for three years running, Carolyn is currently Co-Chair for Omniwomen & Allies and was instrumental in the UK launch of Women in Tech. She’s an IDM Fellow, is on the Qualifications and Advisory Board and manages to fit in being a school governor and Chair of the Admissions and Pastoral Committee. Driven by a desire to get the best out of people and find the best solutions, Carolyn’s approach combines calmness and approachability with firmness and pragmatism.
“Great leaders inspire and empower – this is what Carolyn does. What makes her different is her innate humanity. She encourages openness and kindness, putting people first and recognises that we all have lives outside of work, which makes us more than just a resource. Our people feel respected, accepted and safe, empowered to have ideas and opinions and to voice them – no matter their seniority.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
As the world continues to shift towards more agile working practices, distance learning and automation, it needs kindness to even the balance. Leaders that extol kindness support the whole person through a consistent culture. These positive cultures leave a mark on those who work there, as they are recognised as an asset, not a just a resource. Kindness can help build resilience and be the antidote to anxiety at work, helping colleagues to flourish in a supportive culture.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness – and the many other emotional traits it encompasses – is essential for me to operate as a leader. By being kind, I can be fair, compassionate and firm. It doesn’t mean being a walkover. It shows I am human, open and approachable and enables me to feel safe to show vulnerability. All of this shows that in business, I care about the whole person. The reward for this is a more motivated workforce that is productive and “can do”.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
A colleague's wife had experienced miscarriages and a stillbirth. Whilst his wife was given support, his need for a listening ear was overlooked. Stressed and anxious, he came to resign. At the heart of his decision, he wanted more time with their first-born, aged two. I proposed a four-day week. He has never looked back; now a senior himself, he continues to negotiate a four-day week for his well-being and recently returned to work for me again.

Barbara (Basia) Zieniewicz

Co-founding Director, CANN-Talks and CPASS

Basia is motivated by ethical and meaningful change. She is an advocate for access to cannabis for medicinal use. She is a founding team member for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis and currently heads-up a law-changing campaign, Families 4 Access. Basia is devoted to patient advocacy and public education, co-founding CPASS, the UK’s first professional cannabis patient advocacy organisation and CANN-Talks, a platform to illuminate, inform and destigmatize the complexities of the plant-human relationship.
“Basia has fostered an inclusive, collaborative environment by inviting patients and activists into team management, therefore ensuring that the vulnerable voices and grassroots are at the forefront of cultural changes surrounding reform. This underpins the success of the organisations, which in turn means the success of the most in-need people. Basia demonstrates gratitude towards people’s openness and seeks out ways to work cooperatively rather than competitively. Basia’s attitude towards her team and patients is gestalt and humanistic, placing great value on empowerment, mental health and ensuring that people feel good within themselves before getting through a to-do list.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein. Life, missions, social constructs, the (virtual) workplace, relationships – they are all filled with complex, anxiety-inducing triggers. Judging people by our own standards, as opposed to understanding someone else's, limits the potential for the element of surprise, and what is an experience without the full spectrum?
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness in leadership filters down through an organisation, and care becomes intrinsic throughout everything. If you look after your team, your team will look after your organisation. A strong business, at its core, is a by-product of meaningful relationships.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
The nomination for this award. Someone, whom I admire and silently observe as a mentor, believed in me and nominated me for this a year ago. There were stronger candidates, but the mere consideration alone, coupled with the accompanying references of support, had a significant impact on my reflective process and, in turn, on my practice. What she didn’t know was how difficult things were for me internally at the time. Aleksandra’s belief in me transformed my vulnerabilities into my superpowers.

Astrid Berkman

Business Director Design and Engineering Rail London and South, Arcadis

Astrid is a Partner at Arcadis and currently leads the 140-strong Rail South team. Having held leadership roles across design, engineering and management consultancy, both in the UK and internationally, she focuses on bringing the best of Arcadis to clients. Astrid is also the People & Culture Lead for rail, aviation and highways, where she influences 1,500 professionals and drives the future skills agenda and a culture of belonging.
“Astrid is a transformational leader upon whom the business relies to change culture and build high-performing teams. She does this in a people-focussed manner – relentlessly encouraging, never taking credit and empowering others to succeed. She cares enough to tell you what you need to hear – not what you want to hear – speaking hard truths that embody kindness; challenging people to be their best, to find their own solutions and focus on the right outcomes. The results of improved team morale, growing inter-generational leadership, improved client relationships, financial performance and followership, are evident.”


Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness is essential so that, as leaders, we can make the workplace an environment in which people can be their unique selves regardless of their background, race, gender etc. A place where they can bring their best and thrive. Showing kindness to people will help them grow and succeed, and it will pay it forward – with people extending the kindness received to others.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness motivates people to go the extra mile; kindness makes people feel valued, and the more valued people feel, the more they will give back and the more they put into their work. Kindness cultivates an environment that generates ideas, growth and change, where people feel supported and empowered to take risks, to innovate, to do what they love doing and to take care of each other as well as their clients.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Gandhi is a leading example of kindness – encompassed in his quote: “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” His peaceful approach, compelling speeches and non-violent protests had a significant impact on not just India and South Africa’s history and its people; he also greatly influenced Martin Luther King and with that indirectly influenced the history of the United States.

Anne-Wil Harzing

Professor in International Management, Middlesex University Business School

Anne-Wil is Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London and visiting Professor of International Management at Tilburg University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business, a select group of distinguished AIB members who are recognised for their outstanding contributions to the scholarly development of the field of international business, or for their significant contributions to the AIB. Before joining Middlesex, Anne-Wil was Professor of International Management and a former Associate Dean of Research at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has mentored and sponsored many female academics, and she is currently driving a movement called “Swans”, established to help young academics succeed.
“Anne-Will always responds and helps out. She takes time and is authentically interested in people. Despite her many achievements, she remains humble and would never put herself on stage. She has a proven track record and makes every place she works a better place before she leaves.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Working in academia doesn’t normally bring riches, power or fame; those entering the profession typically do so because they have a strong, intrinsic desire to make a difference in teaching and/or research. Bureaucratic, directive and controlling leadership – unfortunately increasingly common in our profession – kills academics’ intrinsic motivation and with it, their energy and creativity. Instead – kindness, inclusiveness, authentic mentoring and shared leadership can foster the collaborative and supportive culture that is essential for the sector to flourish.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Middlesex University had the foresight to create a dedicated but fundamentally open-ended role for me in helping junior academics realise their research potential – through one-on-one support and coaching, skills development seminars, research lunches, writing boot camps and informal staff development groups. They also gave me time to run CYGNA, a support network for female academics, and to maintain an active blog on all things academia. In turn, investment in these activities has significantly increased both Middlesex’s research performance and its national and international reputation.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I can’t really single out one example. Kindness is about being consistently considerate and caring towards others. This starts with suspending judgment and respecting cultural, linguistic and personal differences, essential in a university that employs people from all continents. However, even little things such as giving away free books, sending congratulatory emails, enabling colleagues to share both their achievements and failures in a safe environment, and opening up your network to them, can mean a lot to junior academics.

Amanda Scott

Managing Director, Willis Towers Watson

As Managing Director at Willis Towers Watson, Amanda leads a team of over 300 UK experts across its Talent & Rewards division, providing expert advice to large global organisations. Additionally, as CEO and Founder of Mike’s Mates, Amanda fights to improve mental health in the UK through leveraging technology and social media. She is a STEM ambassador, member of the UK Game Changer and Women on Boards networks, and a volunteer at Inspiring the Future. She graduated with an MBA from the Smith School of Business.
“As an effective but kind leader, Amanda is a powerful, inclusive listener with empathy, demonstrated by a thoughtful, unhurried approach to leadership – always making people feel like she has time for them. She rarely directly critiques; she rather helps the individual reflect on a behaviour through asking probing questions – this builds positive action rather than negative analysis. This has caused others to reflect and adapt their own styles to be more thoughtful and less reactionary. She has developed a high-performance team culture of thoughtful feedback and positive recognition through both her style but also the recognition scheme she has implemented.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Kindness is empathy, honesty, integrity, deep listening and appreciating the diverse thinking that ultimately powers success. Kindness is solution-focused and always acting in the balanced best interest of an individual, a team and the business. It can be nice and lovely to be around, but it is also having the courage to deliver difficult messages in a constructive way to help people be more successful in the future. True authentic leadership embodies real and deep caring for those around you.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness drives business and is the foundation for growth, trust and relationships. As a global consulting firm, kindness is the backbone to our success because empathy is essential to truly understanding our clients – as people, as teams and as organisations. We need to appreciate our clients’ visions, strategies, drivers and values. It is our role to integrate seamlessly into their teams and offer innovation, challenge and solutions to help them grow and surpass their own expectations.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
A year ago, our team pulled together to create a refreshed focus on our own people agenda and created an EX (employee experience) team. Our strategy has been clients and people first, with financials being an indication of success. Our goal was growth, engagement, passion and fun. Within six months, our financials dramatically improved, and we had launched a new mentoring scheme, inclusion and diversity focus, onboarding approach, learning and development programmes, recognition (treasure trove) and a focus on well-being.

Amanda Clack

Executive Director, CBRE

Amanda is a senior leader at the global real estate consultancy, CBRE. As a chartered surveyor, Amanda has had an outstanding career in a traditionally male-dominated sector. In 2016, she became the second-ever female President of RICS and used the platform to promote the need for greater diversity and inclusion across the global profession and wider sector. She has recently published a book on diversity and inclusion – a practical handbook on change for the industry and another example of Amanda’s sense of responsible leadership in this vital sector.
“Amanda is a naturally kind and authentic leader. The loyalty and success of her current and former team members, as well as the admiration of many in our built environment industry, are testament to Amanda’s kindness, thoughtfulness and care for the individual, combined with her relentless focus on results and striving for better. Her career success speaks for itself – she knows how to get the very best out of teams and make everyone feel valued.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
In a fast-paced world, people are looking for leaders who are not just smart, but who are authentic. Kindness is the essential ingredient. For leaders, it is a key strength, as it empowers the talent and unlocks the true potential of the team.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
Kindness costs nothing to give, but means the world to receive. You know it when you see it, because the impact of kindness in a business environment has a ripple effect on everyone throughout the organisation. Kindness makes for a better working world where people feel valued.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I believe in being true to myself and the values that make me who I am. This means being kind, setting out to make a positive difference to the world around us and supporting those following on the career ladder. Kindness was important to me as I progressed my career; it is even more important to me now as a leader. Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. Be kind: it costs nothing!

Alison Sergeant

SVP Head of Group IT Services and Operations, RenaissanceRe

Alison has used her unique management style to guide the global IT team at RenaissanceRe
through huge growth and transformation. Her role has grown over the years to become one with global responsibilities, and she is currently a member of the London Executive Committee. She has worked tirelessly in support of women in IT and is involved in many initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion, including hosting open days and presentations for school girls, which allows them to speak to successful women in IT and the insurance industry and encourages interest in these fields.
“Alison’s management style of kindness and compassion is contagious. This, in turn, empowers the managers on the team and gives them the freedom to act in the same manner with their direct reports. Alison has successfully created a prevalent culture of openness and honesty. Working in a high pressure environment across multiple time zones can be challenging and make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, the positive culture Alison has created has provided her staff with the confidence to be open with any personal issues, knowing there will be understanding and no judgement at all managerial levels.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Simply put, there isn't enough kindness in the world; the more we practice it, the more it will become the norm. Leading by example is the key here. Our employees learn from us and will use their experience of being managed kindly as the bedrock on which they build their own skills and toolsets for managing other people. “But is that kind?” is an important and valid question to ask at all times – at work, at home, everywhere.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
A kind leader will take time to understand as much as possible about their employees lives – their responsibilities, health, personality and unique challenges. Managing our teams’ delivery around these different challenges helps us to ensure the right service is provided by the right people at the right time, ensuring success without a human cost, fostering loyalty. Kindness is also honesty, not niceness. Telling someone that they are pursuing an unattainable goal is a kindness that saves time and tears.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
Noticing an employee’s performance and demeanour had changed and gently – kindly – asking if work could help in any way, without accusing or stating that their performance was lacking. This helped them to address and overcome some major challenges they had felt they should “leave at home” whilst also ensuring the business was not relying on that person at a difficult time, averting disasters on both home and work fronts. Just a little kindness and time yielded huge benefits.

Alexandra Notay

Fund Director, PfP Capital

Alexandra is Build to Rent Fund Director at PfP Capital, the fund/asset management arm of Places for People Group, which oversees a UK-wide strategy to deliver 3000 new homes. She is an internationally recognised expert on build-to-rent and has advised government, private and third sector organisations across four continents. She sits on multiple influential industry committees and is a non-executive director and charity trustee. With a reputation for being “abnormally energetic”, Alex is passionate about enabling tangible social impact through innovation and collaboration, as well as mentoring the next generation of diverse talent.
“Alex is an inspirational leader. She invests time in those around her, passing on her knowledge and experience. She is supportive, facilitating introductions and promoting colleagues and mentees across the industry. Her positive attitude lifts those around her, creating a collaborative team environment. She cares that things are done ‘the right way’, going above and beyond to ensure people at all levels are respected and engaged. But what sets her apart is her intuitiveness and insightfulness. Her warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit create an environment which enables those around her to grow and develop, empowering them to succeed.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Multiple academic studies have proved that being kind to others makes us happier as individuals but also measurably more productive, easier to trust and more effective leaders. In an era of so much disruption around technology, mobility, demographics and climate change, it is all the more important to ensure our leaders have core people skills that bring out the best in individuals and teams. Kindness is critical. As J.M. Barrie said, “Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.”
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
The most powerful force that has shaped my career to date has been the kindness of my bosses, mentors and colleagues who have taken the time to discuss, advise and support me when I’ve faced particular challenges and opportunities. This has helped me personally but also shaped me into a more effective employee and is one of the reasons I prioritise mentoring and supporting others. Offering and experiencing kindness brings out the best in people, which has measurable business benefits.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making significant impact?
A CEO I worked with spoke to a junior who was about to give a presentation for the first time and was palpably terrified. He didn’t offer platitudes but took the time to share some tips for how to handle nerves – they even agreed on a code word, so in an emergency he could step in; the junior was scared of “drying up” on stage. That sincere empathic engagement had a profound effect on the individual and all of us.

Alex Depledge

Chief Executive Officer, Resi

Alex is a leading female tech entrepreneur who sold her first business, Hassle.com, for £27 million. She is now the Founder and CEO of Resi, a revolutionary new platform in architecture for homeowners and architects alike. Using technology to make the process of renovating a house as convenient as possible, Resi offers a complete service, guiding customers from initial concept through to drawing designs, planning permission and building regulations. Resi can even help an individual find a builder and finance for a project. In just over two years, Alex has built the business to become the largest residential architectural practice in the UK.
“With Resi, Alex has consciously tried to build a business that embodies the values she holds dear. To encourage equality, she offers an equal maternity and paternity leave policy to all staff members. She also offers regular performance coaching to her team and encourages an ‘open door’ policy in terms of talking about mental health issues. After her own struggle with burnout, she is keen to avoid any stigma. The culture of the organisation is warm and open: a direct reflection of her leadership style. She actively wants her team to enjoy working at Resi and firmly believes it’s the best way to build a sustainable business.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
Isn't kindness just essential in the totality of life, not just in business? I couldn't imagine being any other way. It feels fundamentally alien to me.
In your experience, how does kindness make
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
If my employees are happy, they will make customers happy; this hits the bottom line and it creates a virtuous circle. Employees form the core of everything I do.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
A specific example would be when one of my employees had a frequently sick child, and the family was being pushed from specialist to specialist, without results. It was impacting his own health, mental well-being and productivity as an employee, but more importantly, as a parent. So I paid for the child to be seen privately. The child was diagnosed quickly and placed on different treatment and is recovering.

Alex Chow

Head Chef, Kay Mayfair

Born in Malaysia, Alex’s first restaurant cooking job was at the age of 14. He then moved to Singapore to work for the prestigious Fullerton Hotel, with the experience allowing him the opportunity to develop a new standard and interpretation of the ancient art of Chinese cooking. Alex arrived in London in 2004 to lead the kitchen at Kai Mayfair. His passion and his desire to innovate has earned him a reputation as one of London’s most exciting culinary talents. Alex has been awarded a Michelin Star for ten consecutive years since 2009.
“Alex strongly believes in sharing his love and knowledge of food and modern Chinese style cooking with his trainees and the public. He is incredibly passionate about helping young chefs sharpen their skills and excel in their respective futures and has personally mentored several chefs, with many now running their own restaurants based on principles taught by Alex.”

Why is kindness essential for a leader in today’s world?
People working in the restaurant industry, particularly chefs, spend very long hours at work learning their craft, often spending more time with their co-workers than with their families. It is therefore essential to provide a work environment which nurtures a feeling of working as a family. Leading with kindness is an essential building block of such an environment.
In your experience, how does kindness make business sense?
We live in an age where staff, like customers, have immense choice. Most restaurants of similar quality are priced the same and would generally provide very similar pay levels. The key competitive advantage a restaurant can have is really then about how we choose to treat our people. Treat the team with kindness, and that culture will mirror the way we treat our customers.
Can you give us one example of kindness in leadership making a significant impact?
I have always led by example, offering support and taking on any role, junior or senior, to help members of our team who need additional support at particularly busy moments. Promoting a culture of support, without a rigid sense of hierarchy, means that our team can thrive in the very “live” nature of restaurants, where we have to find immediate solutions.