Having “integrity” in your value statement tells me some people in your organization need a reminder to be honest. Hmm.

The problem with value statements

Basic ideas get lost when you over-talk them, which is why retreats usually end up with value statements of the obvious. Values are 100% defined by how the bosses behave anyway. Enron’s values statement had “integrity” in it.

Kindness and a good heart are the foundation for success in this life, progress on the spiritual path, and the fulfillment of our aspirations. – The Dalai Lama

“Kindness” is the only value statement any business needs

Kindness is being friendly, generous, and considerate. It’s neither weakness nor meekness. Nor is kindness an abstract good: it shapes practical behaviors such as listening, collaboration and patience. And these foster innovation and keep conflict from interrupting your work. A half-day retreat just telling stories of when people in your company were kind to each other will transform your culture. Who wouldn’t want a reputation for kindness?

How to be kind: One slow breath

People can be unkind for reasons we don’t see: difficulties at home, a mistaken idea of how they should act, or fear of failure. We can keep ourselves from escalating conflict by just taking one slow breath in response to someone’s snide comment, obnoxious email or insensitivity. This takes courage, and we must train ourselves to see our own angry response rise up—and then take a breath to let it fade. We all know kind people, so we can learn from them.

What if your boss is unkind?

But what if someone with power over you is often unkind and doesn’t respond to your mature responses? Quit. You need limits on what you should endure.

That said, kindness is always your responsibility. You’re an adult and that sometimes requires acting as patient parent even to people more directly responsible for your organization’s behavior.

A professional I know looks to see if the leader actually likes their employees. Perhaps the best way to build a culture of kindness is to do whatever you can to like the imperfect, impatient and troubled people you work with. And then they’ll be kind to you when you slip.