Recording: Free Webinar with Karyn Ross on Kind Leadership


I really enjoyed the webinar that my friend Karyn Ross presented on July 11th as part of the KaiNexus Continuous Improvement webinar series. I was the host and moderator.

Why Kindness is the Key to Lean Leadership

Here is the recording!

Preview Chat

Here is a quick preview that Karyn and I recorded the other day and the transcript can be found below.

Transcript of the Preview:

Mark Graban: Hi, everybody. I'm Mark Graban from KaiNexus. Today, we're joined by my friend, Karyn Ross. She is going to be joining us at KaiNexus to do another webinar. This is the third that Karyn has done in our series.

She's going to be leading the session on July 11th, one o'clock Eastern. It's titled “Why Kindness is the Key to Lean Leadership.” You can register for that. You can look for a link in the video description or the podcast show notes or you can go to

Karyn is the founder of The New School for Kind Leaders, the Love and Kindness Foundation Project. She's author of books, including her latest, “The Kind Leader — A Practical Guide to Eliminating Fear, Creating Trust, and Leading With Kindness.” There it is. Karyn, hi. How are you today?

Karyn Ross: I'm super fabulous. Thank you so much for inviting me back to be a guest. I'm super, super, super excited as always.

Mark: I'm glad that you're doing it. This is an important topic and something you've helped me learn a lot about, not just from your book, but your coaching with me and your kindness in explaining, for example, the difference between nice and kind. I try to help pass that along to others.

Before we talk about the webinar, maybe I'd just ask you to introduce yourself a little bit for people who don't know you. I know you'll cover and lead discussion around this in the webinar, but how do you summarize maybe, for example, nice and kind?

Karyn: Definitely, we will talk more about this on the webinar. There's actually some discussion on LinkedIn about that today. I'm Karyn Ross. Some of you may know me from the lean world. I'm the co-author with my fabulous friend, Jeff Liker, of “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence.” I authored after that “How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence.”

I have a foundation called Love and Kindness Project Foundation. You might be thinking to yourself, “How does kindness go together with lean? How does any of this go together?” The truth is, through traveling the world, speaking and teaching about Toyota Way, I saw an awful lot of unkindness.

Mark, you've probably seen this before the pandemic, too. People are not behaving their best on airplanes. They're not being very kind to the people in airports. I'm the kind of person that when I see a problem, I think, “Someone should do something about the problem, and the problem is me.” I created these little buttons and Mark has these, too.

Mark: Thank you for giving me some of these.

Karyn: You're welcome. I just wanted to start recognizing kindness, so I would give them to people doing kindness as I saw. Of course, as I'm thinking about this and thinking about lean leadership and respect for people, I really started to think, and we'll talk about this on the webinar, too, continuous improvement. All the tools and practices for the continuous improvement pillar.

Lean and Toyota Way are really, really super well-defined, but we have less definition on the respect for people and lean leadership part. I really started to think, “Well, what really is there about this and that kindness?”

We'll talk more about what kindness is and what kindness isn't, because I really thought it's really that underlying thing that goes through everything for us to go and see, for us to actually focus on people and focus on the actual human beings who are serving our customers. That has to do with kindness.

What's the difference between nice and kind? Nice, it focuses on ourselves. If we have a team member who perhaps isn't hitting the target that our customers need, maybe we're going to think, “Well, hmm, that's not really good, but it's going to take a lot of my time and effort.

I already spoke to them once. I already spoke to them twice. We already put them on a performance plan. It's going to take a lot of time and effort and I'm getting a lot of heat from my own boss. Maybe we should just fire them.” We don't want to make the other person uncomfortable. That might seem nice to us, but it's not really very kind.

Kind is going to take us a lot more effort. We have to go and see. We have to really figure out what's going on with that person because, Mark, you've met a lot of people and I've met a lot of people, and most people want to actually go to work and do a fabulous job at their job.

Mark: They do.

Karyn: They do. That kindness is what's going to help us to focus on taking the actions that will help the other person in the way that they need help. It's probably going to take us more effort. It's probably going to take us more time. It probably may have all sorts of unexpected things that go with it. It takes a huge amount of strength.

That's really the difference. It's really when you think about lean leadership and when you think about respect for people, we can't have that without kindness.

Mark: Thank you for that, Karyn. I'm really looking forward to the session that you're going to be facilitating. It's going to be very interactive. I hope people can attend live because you'll be able to answer questions. Karyn is going to be posing to the group and you'll be able to ask questions of her. We're going to have a lot of the hour together spent on that interaction.

Again, you can register at If you are watching or listening to this after July 11th, you'll be able to check out the recording, will be available in this podcast feed and the YouTube channel.

I'm going to go back, and I'm not beating myself up over this, Karyn, but I said the name of your foundation incorrectly. I made a little a little slip up. It's the Love and Kindness Project Foundation. I reversed foundation and project.

Karyn: I'm going to say that's totally fine. It's zero problem. You know the thing about me, I'm not a perfectionist. Every single one of my posts, there's a spelling mistake, there's a grammar mistake. I'm going to say mistakes are totally fabulous. We learn from them all the time, so please leave that one in.

Mark: I am not going to edit that out. As I hold up my My Favorite Mistake coffee mug, Karyn was guest number three on the show. I've got these coffee mugs made. On the back, on the side, I can read. Karyn has the first version that just had my logo on there twice. Karyn helped me develop these. You prompted me to develop the mantras here.

I'm going to remind myself, “Be kind to yourself. Nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes. The important thing is continuing to learn from our mistakes.” Thank you, Karyn, for your kindness and your reminders and guidance there.

Karyn: Thank you, Mark, for being my fabulous friend and really always, always, always, since I started doing this, an inspiration.

Mark: That's very nice of you. Thank you and again in advance for doing the webinar. Why Kindness is the Key to Lean Leadership with Karyn Ross, July 11th. is where you can learn more and sign up. Hope to see you there. We'll see you again soon, Karyn.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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