Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials Christmas 2019: Shiny Happy People

Kindness: an underrated currency

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 16 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6099
  1. R E Klaber, consultant paediatrician1,
  2. S Bailey, director of leadership and organisational development2
  1. 1Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2King’s Fund, London, UK
  3. Correspondence to: S Bailey

Cultivation of kindness is a valuable part of the business of healthcare

When we reflect on the past decade, it feels as if we have made a big mistake in healthcare. We have allowed the dominant narrative to be around money, taking the focus, energy, and leadership away from our core purpose of delivering the best care possible. Balancing the books is important, especially in a tax funded system, and we have a duty to drive value for every pound we spend—but money is not the most important thing.

Purpose and meaning

One of the most enduring leadership stories from the 20th century is US President John F Kennedy’s encounter with a janitor when he first visited the NASA space centre. When the president casually asked him what he did for NASA, the janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” This story tells you everything you need to know about purpose and meaning in work. While …

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