Leadership Qualities: Redefining Personal Space …

Recipe: Chicken Soup for a Cold

Effective leaders know that getting their team members to remain calm and logical in the face of a crisis is the best antidote to anxiety, especially when the opportunities for anxiety exist everywhere.  

Imagine for a moment that you had endured the chilling North East winter by looking ahead to your upcoming spring break vacation in sunny Florida.  Then suddenly, COVID-19 hits New York and begins spreading all across the country.  Flights are cancelled, travel restrictions are placed on foreign visitors, quarantine facilities are increasing and hospitals are seeing more COVID-19 cases.  What thoughts run through your head?  Add the following information to your situation:

… I didn’t want to risk spreading infection to my grandmother or my immunocompromised dad. Plus, I’ve taken seriously the scientific consensus to avoid all nonessential travel right now. Though I would be sad to miss spending time with people I love, I wasn’t going to prioritize my own vacation over the public good.

a crowded New York airport is the last place anyone should be. Plus, two of my three roommates have been exhibiting the telltale symptoms of this virus — one has a low-grade fever; both have dry coughs — which means we all need to be self-quarantining in our house for at least two weeks. At this point, I’m conducting myself as if I’ve already been infected. Why would I fly anywhere, let alone spend a week in a small Florida community made up of vulnerable retirees?  

(Keating, 2020; https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/shannonkeating/coronavirus-social-distancing-self-isolation-quarantine).  

Whether it is contemplating flying to a wonderful destination for a long-awaited vacation; having to work from home in Jamaica and elsewhere because all non-essentail workers are being reassigned for a week to minimize the spread of COVID-19; or you have to be locked away with your family for more than 52 days and counting in Wuhan, China which is the epicentre of COVID-19; people all over the world are learning to do something that is not naturally human – refrain from socialising!

We are much more comfortable with warning others about invading our personal space while still wanting their presence to ward off the feeling of isolation.  

(Natbrock Alicia Tom in Weithers, 2018; https://pairedlife.com/etiquette/Rights-and-Responsibilities-in-Our-Personal-Space). 

But COVID-19 is forcing us all to redefine personal space.  See the image below shot yesterday by photographer Emilio Morenatti in Barcelona, Spain on March 17, 2020.

(Emilio Morenatti in D’Emilio, March, 17, 2020; https://www.northwestgeorgianews.com/associated_press/news/politics/ap-photos-virus-redefines-respecting-personal-space/article_e2da0f72-b3ea-524e-aa37-33db87867eb7.html)

Everyone must now stay far, far away in public spaces, at a minimum 6 feet by some guidelines (See more frequently asked questions at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#protect).  This is social distancing, a useful tool used to slow down the spread of an epidemic, or in this case a global pandemic.  Consider the graph below which shows the power of social distancing if used effectively.

A sample epidemic curve, with and without social distancing. (Image credit: Johannes Kalliauer in Specktor, 2020; https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-flatten-the-curve.html ).  

The assumption behind social distancing is that “Many hundreds of thousands of infections will happen — but they don’t all have to happen at once”(Specktor, 2020).  

If you live in an area where at the best of times the healthcare system is under pressure to treat chronic communicable and non-communicable diseases, then the last thing the world needs is to see more of what is happening in Italy.  According to recent reports, “Italy, for example — the country with the worst COVID-19 outbreak outside of China — confirmed cases doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 in just four days (March 11 to March 15).” 

So, “flattening the curve” is critical.  By implementing community isoaltion measures, the daily rate of infection is reduced to a number that is manageable by the healthcare system.

One way of understanding “flattening the curve” is by thinking of the public restrooms at a theater production.  If everyone goes at the same time then there will not be enough stalls to accommodate the audience.  But, if patrons stagger their visits to the restrooms, then everyone will be able to comfortably use the facilities.  

Another benefit of social distancing is that it gives science the time that it needs to work on finding an effective treatment.  Currently, vaccines are being tested based on remdesivir which treats Ebola, the anti-HIV drug Kaletra and other medicines that are normally used to treat hepatitis and malaria (Devlin & Sample, March 10, 2020; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/10/hopes-rise-over-experimental-drugs-effectiveness-against-coronavirus). Also being tested is the anti-viral drug Interferon-Alfa 2B (Yaffe, 2020; https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/latamcaribbean/2020/03/18/cuba-and-coronavirus-how-cuban-biotech-came-to-combat-covid-19/).

There are numerous sources of advice on what you can do to protect yourself during this period. Some experts share their advice on the stock markets, the hospitality industry, medical sciences, zoo-keeping and more at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-13/10-experts-on-what-they-re-telling-people-about-coronavirus.  Here’s a brief list from the CDC below.

10 Things You Can Do to Manage COVID-19 at Home

You will undoubtedly be locked away for quite a while.  Life as we know it will forever be changed as we adopt new social habits.  But there is one thing that will never change, and those are those healthy traditions passed down by Mom (or Grandma) in a nice pot of chicken soup.  Not only is it healthy, but you can make it a family activity. Oh, did I tell you that we made a huge pot of this healing brew this week?  I can smell my lunch already!   

Need a recipe? See below!  Don’t forget to keep your hands clean and to limit social gatherings.  Be active wherever you are – walking the stairs, cycling, running in place, or  running along the river are just a few ideas that come to mind.  Don’t waste away while you are under “shelter in place” orders.  Remember that water is still the essence of life.  So see http://ijcar.net/assets/pdf/Vol3-No2-February2016/11.pdf and http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

How To Make Quick And Easy Chicken & Leek Soup For Cold & Flu

Leadership Qualities: On-going Communication…

What You Need To Know About Handwashing

Effective leaders know that the best outcomes are brought about by open and honest, on-going communication.

Imagine for a moment that you went on a luxurious cruise – one that you have saved your entire life to enjoy, or simply an annual vacation.  But, as you approach port the ship is surrounded by coast guard vessels with personnel dressed in hazmat suits.  What goes through your mind?  

Or, imagine the public scare when someone escapes quarantine and is running around in a highly populated area under the threat of a new virus outbreak.  What does the local authority do once he is caught and returned to quarantine for observation?  Apply legal action when they want the public to be aware of how serious the risk is to public health and safety.

Clear communication simply involves the transmission of information.  Without question language is the chief source of communication.   So, all ideas, experiences, feelings, sentiments and knowledge are expressed and transmitted through language and speech.  Thus, communication serves as a

“means of controlling the actions of others and as a cohesive force uniting the members of a particular community.”

(Deeksha, n.d.; http://www.psychologydiscussion.net/social-psychology-2/communication/communication-meaning-components-and-forms/1402).

However, communication networks must be carefully selected an managed in an emergency to maximize group functioning, task performance, member satisfaction, and group solidarity.  Especially in fighting the pandemic of COVID-19 (Ducharme, 2020; https://time.com/5791661/who-coronavirus-pandemic-declaration/), the last thing we need is a highly centralized network which can, under certain circumstances, reduce efficiency, cause peripheral members to feel excluded and dissatisfied, and even reduce group cohesion (Hogg, 2001).

Taking personal responsibility is important.  So, here’s the safest and the most obvious step to take to protect yourself against COVID-19 and other deadly known bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Helicobacter pylori.  WASH YOUR HANDS!  Here are a few good reasons to keep this habit:

  1. You touch a lot of door handles
  2. Your office desk may have more germs than a toilet seat
  3. Germs are everywhere as you commute
  4. Restaurants are not spotless (Dodgson, 2019; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/lifestyle/health/6-gross-reasons-why-you-should-wash-your-hands-more-often/ar-BB111Rcr?MSCC=1583940005&ocid=spartandhp).

Today, the world is especially concerned with taking precautions against COVID-19. I am too.  So, please take a few minutes and watch the CDC’s March 9, 2020 update on the COVID-19.  It clearly communicates who is at risk and what precautions to take.  It will undoubtedly provide you with information and ease the anxiety that ferments without accurate information.

CDC Briefing Room: COVID-19 Update and Risks

Don’t forget to wash your hands frequantly with water and soap.  For more on the essential value of water see http://ijcar.net/assets/pdf/Vol3-No2-February2016/11.pdf and http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

While practising good hygiene you can sing this little song.

Happy Handwashing Song

Leadership Qualities: Steering Organizational Learning…

Jack Welch | Good Bad Managers

Effective leaders know that succcessful organizations learn and grow in the same way that students learn and grow, by explicitly detecting and correcting errors.

Imagine the race for affordable energy sources – finding it, mining it, processing it and shipping it across the world to be distributed to millions of users in homes, offices, and every space in between being home and being out.  One Senior Manager at Royal Dutch/Shell, wrote that the “only competitive advantage the company of the future will have is its managers’ ability to learn faster than their competitors” (Arie de Geus, 1988. p. 74).  This is why Peter Senge, noted expert in management, lists General Electric, Shell and Coca-Cola among some of the most successful companies of all time – because they use learning concepts throughout their organization.  

Organizational learning according to Argyris (in Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis, 2011) is

“the process of detection and correction of errors…  Organizations learn when the knowledge that their members have is explicitly known and codified by the organization… If members leave, the explicit knowledge that they developed in their jobs should stay” (p. 334).

As we look around and see many organizations strategizing to take the lead in their sector, from politics and education to sports and media, we cannot ignore the power of an organization that learns how to use its knowledge to gain a competitive advantage.

In tribute to Jack Welch (1935-2020) for the risks he took as an industry leader in the 1980s, let’s consider the organizational learning that honed GE into the success that it became.  History reveals that GE became successful after World War II because the engineers who ran it, essentially produced whatever they thought that consumers needed.  As much of the world’s industrial capacity outside the United States had been devastated, excited consumers absorbed everything that GE manufactured (Bolman & Deal, 2003).   

But, Welch, knew when he took the reins as CEO in 1981 that the stereotypical old-fashioned hierarchy could not last.  So, his mission became building a culture that emphasized “quality, entrepreneurship and candor. … He insisted that every GE business be number one or number two in its industry.  If not, said Welch, ‘we’ll fix it, sell it, or close it’ ” (p. 230).  This strategy resulted in a third of GE’s businesses that he had inherited being sold off, and resources reinvested in areas showing more potential.  Controversial though it was, Welch cut GE’s payroll from 400,000 to about 330,000 over four years, earning him the derogatory nickname “Neutron Jack;” after a bomb that devastated people but left buildings intact.  Not immune to scandal, but still producing successful returns, allowed Welch to remain as the CEO of GE.  

So, with him steering the wheel, in ten years, from 1982 to 1992, GE’s market value increased from $21.6 billion to $73.9 billion, and more than doubled in another ten years to more than $300 billion by 2002.  So that you know how uniquely successful Welch’s strategies were, for comparison, let’s contrast the market position with another industry leader, IBM.  In just ten years, Welch’s steering of GE allowed him to overtake IBM.  In 1982, IBM’s market value was twice the value of GM.  But, ten years later, their positions were reversed (pp. 230-231).

Seeing value and potential in an individual or an enterprise is only the beginning.  Effective leaders know that they have to harness the lessons that are evident in the errors that they have made and correct them for building a successful future.  The world is undoubtedly watching this play out as they watch China’s response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID – 2019) outbreak and the World Health Organization’s response to activate their protocols on declaring a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (UNICEF, 2020; https://www.unicef.org/appeals/files/coronaviruspdfhac4.pdf).  And, all stakeholders are onboard as more than 25 nations now grapple with the virus, and the number of cases outside China have surpassed those at the center of the outbreak.  With more than 1,500 deaths reported, community spread across the United States, Italy, and South Korea are just a few places of increasing concern.   

With every opportunity to lead, there is also an opportunity to learn.  Welch challenges all of us to be good managers by learning and growing.  So, what’s your strategy for steering organizational learning?  How are you harnessing the knowledge that you have gained in keeping your family and community safe?  How are you harnessing the knowledge that you have gained over several months (years) of study?  How are you harnessing the knowledge of those who have left your organization?  

If none exists, start your documentation process today.  You may be surprised who will pick it up long after you are gone.  For more, see https://www.amazon.com/Black-Gold-Mitchell-Keisha/dp/3659761052/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=black+gold+by+keisha+mitchell&qid=1583340380&s=books&sr=1-1 and http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

Remember, we’re working for a brighter tomorrow for the children.

Michael Jackson – We Are The World (HQ)

Leadership Qualities: Creating Artifacts…

WNBA star Diana Taurasi remembers Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi at memorial service

Effective leaders know that an important part of creating thier culture is to establish artifacts that reflect their standards and represent who they are – in discipline, dedication, dress code, deportment, and more.

So imagine a young girl hooked on baseketball.  Her father’s joy was taking her to watch the Lakers in action.  At home, as she watched transfixed by the moves on the court, and spent the commercial breaks running to her front yard to mimic Kobe Bryant’s shots and passes.  Undoubtedly, Diana Taurasi was on her way to a basketball career with the WMBA. Today, she is a 4-time Olympic Gold Medalist, a 3-time WMBA champion, 3-time NCAA champion, the WMBA’s All Time Leading Scorer, and was affectionately dubbed by Kobe as the “White Mamba.”  Such a fitting legacy to a man whose wife (Vanessa) paid tribute to their family as, “…still the best team” (Bryant in ABC News, 2020, mins. 1:39:02-1:39:28; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW9pitIu8aw).

Artifacts are

“those things with which we mark out territory: the decorations and art in a building; the furnishings and fittings; the styles of clothes that people wear; the types of desks;, offices and computers that they use – these are all artifacts that tell us, subtly about the environments we occupy or are in”

(Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis, 2011, p. 217).  

And, Kobe Bryant’s skill and dedication to the game cultivated such artifacts in the “Mamba” culture, especially for one lanky teenager believing that she could be a Laker one day.  

While discovering herself as a lanky teenager, Diana gained confidence through basketball because Kobe made it “okay to play with an edge that was borderline crazy.  Early onset Mamba mentality was in full effect (CBS News, 2020, 1:27-1:48 mins.; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS276F36NDc).  Meeting him at the 2008 Olympics reinforced everything that she had learned about Kobe from a distance.  And his discipline, dedication, deportment and skill remain with her today, as every training session ends the same way with the Kobe game winner:

“3 hard dribbles going right, left foot plant pivot, swing right leg through, elevate, square up, follow through.  Five in a row, I got to go home.”

(CBS News, 2020, 2:06-2:38 mins.; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS276F36NDc).

After retiring from a professional basketball career, Kobe could have taken it easy and simply focused on his family, and his upcoming star in his daughter, Gianna.  But, he had entered that Eriksonian psychosocial stage of Generativity vs. Stagnation.  So, his constant thought was how to contribute more, how to coach better, how to improve himself and his team, even at the risk of making himself a nuisance to others.   

Verywell by Nusha Ashjaee (https://www.verywellmind.com/generativity-versus-stagnation-2795734).

Kobe not only coached Gianna, but he coached other young athletes and extended himself through the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation.  And, his growing pool of successful female basketball players reveals his girls’ dad heart.  According to Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon’s  Senior Guard, he encouraged their difference and was giving her the same blueprint that he was giving Gigi.  Kobe’s symbolic influence remains with her through his text messages, his books, and his coaching advice (PAC 12 Networks, 2020; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m3KoK-o-Fs).  

Today, as we enter the Church season of Lent on this Ash Wednesday, we are thoughtful of Jesus’ journey to the Cross.   We also think about the death of loved ones lost and the hope that we hold of being reunited with them someday.  According to psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, all five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the process that helps us to live with the one we lost.  “… But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief” (Kessler, 2020; https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/).  

So, take all the time you need to heal. And, when you are strong enough reach a hand back to help someone else.  To see more about artifacts in the Jamaican sporting legacy read “Journey to Gold” (Mitchell, 2016; http://www.indusedu.org/pdfs/IJRESS/IJRESS_876_93216.pdf) and reach out to a young person today with Dear Little Sister… or Dear Little Brother… at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

One final song for the moment:

Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up (Official Music Video)

Leadership Qualities: Innovating Transportation Solutions…

The Jackson 5 – I’ll Be There (1970)

Effective leaders know one of the biggest items in the budget is transportation – so getting workers to work and home, shipping valuable goods across the world, and preparing for whatever emergencies may happen  are top priorities for investments.

Imagine for a moment that it’s early morning and you have just begun preparations to head out for the day.  You barely have the kettle on before the phone rings and you hear your child saying, “Mom, I’ve been in an accident.  The ambulance is here and we are headed to the hospital.  I need you to get here as fast as you can.”  No matter what you had planned for the day, every thing gets shelved in order to get to your child in distress.  But, how are you going to get there?  How do you bridge the gap between your home and where your child is located?  What if they are across town, in another state or parish, or even in another country?

Transportation is more than just moving people and resources around by the five main modes which are: railways, roadways, airways, waterways and pipelines.  At the heart of it, is facilitating meaningful relationships and building a sense of community.  Some responses from persons may be: “I travel because I have to go and see my children and grandchildren.”  “I commute because I have to earn a living to provide for my young family.”  “I drive fast cars because I enjoy racing with my buddies.”  But, no matter the reason, people use different modes of transportation because it connects them to social and economic relationships.  

But, there are consequences to the choices that we make in how we travel around. A study of one of the world’s largest transportation systems shows that air quality is significantly affected by increases in nitrogen bearing gases.  It is estimated that for India,    

“more than 95% of the transport-related requirements of public and goods mobility are met by road and railways. In view of the ever-increasing needs of greater mobility, coupled with increasing economic prosperity, India has been witnessing sharp growth in transport sectors such as road and aviation for last couple of decades. The increase in transport fleets and their utilizations require enhanced amount of fuel consumption, resulting in increased emissions of nitrogen bearing gases such as nitrous oxide (N2O) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). In Indian urban ambient environment, quite often particulate matter and NOx have been found to breach the national ambient air quality standards” (Gurjar, Sahu, Nagpure, Sharma, Singh, & Bhattacharya, 2017; https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811836-8.00029-X).  

Why are breaches in air quality standards a bad thing?  Well, air quality directly affects the health of the population.  And, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirms this trend.  On average, one in 12 people in the U.S. has asthma, or about 25 million people.  But it is rising.  From 2001 to 2011, the CDC says the number of Americans with asthma grew by 28 percent (CDC, 2013; https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/pdfs/asthma_facts_program_grantees.pdf).  Of greater concern is the fact that asthma rates are rising the fastest among black children (almost a 50 percent increase) from 2001 through 2009 (Healthline, 2013; https://www.healthline.com/health-news/children-allergies-and-asthma-on-the-rise-110813#1).  

Add to this fact that almost 60 percent of the asthma cases are allergic asthma triggered by environmental conditions from airborne pollen and dust to industrial chemicals, mold, urban pollution and climate change.  Symptoms include trouble breathing, coughing, and wheezing which are life-threatening in a severe attack ( Healthline, 2020; https://www.healthline.com/health/allergic-asthma/treatment-options-doctor#triggers).  

And, societies are paying a heavy price.  Estimates suggest “a mean cost per patient per year, including all asthmatics (intermittent, mild, moderate and severe asthma) in Europe is $USD 1,900, which seems lower than USA, estimated mean $USD 3,100” (Nunes, Pereira & Morais-Almeida, 2017; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5219738/).  

So, if we want to move around faster to keep our social and economic lives strong, then we have to understand how we got here, and what possibilities exist for the future.  How we got here is with a lot of innovation.  See the short video below.

History of transportation

So, we have to continue innovating from here.  And, there is good news, as cleaner fuels such as CNG and auto LPG are being used in road transport in smaller quantities as compared to conventional liquid fuels (Gurjar, Sahu, Nagpure, Sharma, Singh, & Bhattacharya, 2017).  Also, modelling techniques are being employed by shipping lines to determine the best combination of land and sea transportation (Gursoy, 2010).

In aviation, the industry’s second-largest airline, Delta, just announced that it will be carbon neutral by investing more than one billion US dollars over the next decade to make the industry sustainable for generations to come (Purdy, 2020; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/money/topstories/delta-says-it-will-spend-dollar1-billion-to-reduce-its-climate-footprint/ar-BB102SWl?MSCC=1581947076&ocid=spartandhp#image=BB102SWl_1|1).  

For more do your own research.  Also see Mitchell (2018) https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=related:EIqchCDuAPIJ:scholar.google.com/&scioq=Keisha+A.+Mitchell+2018&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5) .  For a little soul fuel, visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

Leadership Qualities: The Power of Labeling …

5 Ways To Build A Winning Company Culture

Effective leaders know the power of labels, so they call for what they want.

Imagine entering a busy factory of a very successful company.  After greeting the staff member assigned to take you on a tour, you are taken to a sanitation area where gowns, caps and industrial cleaning detergents are set up.  Once appropriately covered, you are led through the maze of activity.  Not only are hands busy at work to ensure the quota is met for the day, but smiling heads look up as we pass each station.  Ever so often, we stop and ask questions about the process from the machine operator or we simply film the production process.  

As we continue the tour, I realize that my tour guide is not simply a ‘hand’ in the factory, he is a valuable resource.  Why?  He had started there as one of the regular factory staff.  However, his supervisor recognized his aptitude for working with the machines and solving any problems associated with them.  The appropriate training was arranged.  So, he now serves as the in-house mechanic to service the machines, ensuring that they operate at optimal level.

Do you know that 42% of employees do not feel that executives contribute to a positive organizational culture (TheExecuSearchGroup, 2017)?  The history of human resource management tells the power of labels used to describe the staff.  In contrast to my factory tour guide above, think for a moment about entering one of Henry Ford’s factories through a door labeled ‘hands’ entrance’ (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis, 2010, p. 299).  What would you expect on the inside?  

This label was born of Frederick Taylor’s use of “hands” in the early 1900s which symbolized “a headless and heartless worker who is easily replaceable, because all they contribute is manual dexterity, which is tightly trained and controlled” (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis, 2010, p. 299).  Later emerged the human relations movement and Elton Mayo’s work of the 1980s which emphasized feelings and emotions.  Here, we saw “workers as being human resources that can be systematically managed, trained, and exploited” (Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis, 2010, p. 299).

So, how do you see your organization?  Is it a machine, or is it a vibrant culture, a living organism that thrives in its environment?  In the latter, workers and employers obtain benefits and each is seen as valuable to the other.  Abuse is quickly punished because it affects the entire organism.  

But, what happens when appropriate labels are forgotten and executives abuse their power?  Organizations (living organisms) and their people suffer dearly.  Take the on-going case of human resource abuses at the Google corporation and the resultant shake-up that is looming (Elias, 2020; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/money/topstories/googles-hr-head-to-step-down-amid-tension-among-employees/ar-BBZRniF?OCID=ems.display.welcomeexperience&MSCC=1581524947#image=BBOS3sz|1).  

Some of the distress signals at Google included,

“a November 2018 employee walk-out after employees learned the company had paid departing Android chief $90 million despite credible claims of sexual misconduct, … protests over the company’s plans to work with the Defense Department on artificial intelligence technology and a plan — since abandoned — to create a censored version of its search engine for China.

2019… an overhaul to how its human resources department responds to complaints. Instead of each person reporting to their own human resources contact in their organization and location, there’s essentially a ticketing queue, workers said” (Elias, 2020).

As we improve technology and automate systems, are we regressing from human relations with the heart of the worker in mind, to machines where the worker is simply a waiting case number?

Somehow, we have to find a way to rediscover the heart of the child in the middle of our existence.  Take a few minutes and watch the video below of coach Frank Martin distinguishing himself from being a parent, and the importance of life lessons established in childhood.

Frank Martin on Parents Coaching From the Stands

One approach to rediscovering the emotions and feelings of the worker is available in Black Gold: Developmental Pathways to Human Resource Development in Jamaica (Mitchell, 2015; https://www.amazon.com/Black-Gold-Mitchell-Keisha/dp/3659761052/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Black+Gold+by+Keisha+A.+Mitchell&qid=1581529133&sr=8-1) which locates the motivation to work in the way that we learned to play as children.  For more inspiring works, see http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

Leadership Qualities: Laughter…

First Lady Michelle Obama Does Her Best Barack Impression

Telling a good joke is not only one of the best ways to break the ice, but it is an effective tool used by leaders to relax their team members and to increase productivity.

Imagine for a moment that you had a meeting set with the CEO of a major organization.  What’s the first thing that runs through your head as you prepare to make your presentation?  Well, you know that first impressions last.  So, you select your clothing carefully, shine your shoes and arrive on time, after triple checking that you have everything packed and ready to go. Right?

Then you get there.  You are greeted by the CEO and taken to the executive suite.  However, instead of a stiff upper lip approach, you are thrown off guard by a leader who cracks jokes with his employees, who makes light of himself and his weaknesses, and allows his team to do what he has engaged them to do.  Instead of being stressed about my presentation and how he will evaluate me, I relax and wait for the moments that I am given to present my issues and ask questions.  And, his humor was infections as I found the same lightheartedness in his staff as I toured their facilities.

Sometimes we think that leadership is so much about bearing responsibility, that we look for the stiff upper lip approach, rather than the humorous and engaging head.  Perhaps we can change some unhealthy patterns in our organizations as we consider the role that humor can play in leadership.

Humor is “The capacity to express or perceive what’s funny, … both a source of entertainment and a means of coping with difficult or awkward situations and stressful events. … humor can play an instrumental role in forming social bonds, releasing tension, or attracting a mate. Most important, humor is largely subjective.”

(Psychology Today, 2020).

 In a study of 230 musical directors, many revealed that “telling a joke or a funny anecdote was important. … The research … on humor and leadership suggests that we might be better off employing Michael McIntyre than Bill Gates” (Cronie, 2019; https://qz.com/work/1608688/learning-to-make-people-laugh-will-make-you-a-better-leader/).

Among the top ways suggested that humor can be beneficial at work are:

1. Creating unity – strengthens solidarity between colleagues and builds team spirit.

2. Fostering creativity –  One of the byproducts of combining odd ideas  increases creativity levels in groups, making teams more productive and innovative. So, you may be talking about the need for staff training and you make a joke about sipping Mai Tais or Pina Coladas on the beach in Ocho Rios. Suddenly the energy is shifted and team members may try to figure out how to combine the two events, or at least suggest a solution to the problem at hand.

3. Benefiting health – Enjoying a good laugh does more than just feel good.  Remember that Mary Poppins song, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftxnr28LDXc).   Well, laughter really does the heart good like medicine.

And, research has provided evidence to show that “Physically and mentally, humor is the opposite of stress. Laughter lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation, reduces muscle tension and pain, and boosts the immune system” (Corine, 2019).

4. Softening criticism – humor can deliver criticism in a lighthearted way. And, one of the most insidious vices that can ruin families, friendships, and once successful organizations is gossip.  So, how do you tell a gossip, to mind their own business in a diplomatic way.  Well, two reggae artists have done it in a little song that I will leave you with, simply titled, “Leave People Business Alone.”

Christopher Martin & Romain Virgo – Leave People Business Alone | Official Music Video

So, the next time that you are in doubt about what to do to break the tension, soften criticism, inject some energy, or let people know that you are in charge, try humor.  It is sure to produce the desired result in short order.  Scroll through one of my previous entries at https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2018/05/05/the-joy-of-laughter-children-learn-what-they-live/ and visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

Leadership Qualities: Establish Emergency Plans…

Massive Earthquake Strikes Caribbean, Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones Says Risk Of Tsunami Low

Effective leaders plan for the unexpected.

It’s easy to say, “That will never happen to me.”  It’s even easier to say it, if after years of almost happenned, it still has not happenned.  But, what if you get a double wake up call in one day?  Picture the scene of a busy hospital when an earthquake starts to be felt and everyone is forced out to the surrounding grounds for safety.  Then, picture all the medical personal already covered in face masks because of the suspected case of a new and deadly virus that they believe had arrived in a patient that very morning – the same virus that has been wreaking havoc in China – the Coronavirus.

Now, the circumstances have greatly changed. “That will never happen to me!” came knocking on the door if you happenned to be on the grounds of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) yesterday morning, January 28, 2020.  

Thankfully, emergency plans were in place to quarantine the suspected case of Coronavirus.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when it was proved not to be here this time.  But, it was a test of the emergency plans and how effective they were in getting everyone in place and on target to secure the patient’s health, and more importantly to protect public safety.

The earthquake yesterday, was a far more serious threat as it gave rise to memories of the great 1907 earthquake that had completely destroyed Kingston (Gleaner, 2002; http://old.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0017.html). It was that devastation that gave rise to changes in the building code, and subsequent review by the Bureau of Standards in 1999 (https://www.oas.org/cdmp/document/kma/seismic/kma5.htm).

Again, Emergency plans were tested, not just at the UHWI, but across the island as more than 20 students suffering from panic attacks and other heart conditions were rushed to the emergency room of the Savanna La Mar Hospital in Westmoreland at the opposite end of the island.  Also, there was serious damage reported to the structure of the Social Development Commission building in St. Elizabeth.  These were just a few that made the headlines (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S3ol3cWkK0).  

But, communities all across Jamaica, and throughout the region including the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas and the coast of Florida from (Tallahassee to Pensacola), were arrested by the movements experienced by shaking buildings and their contents swirling, tumbling, and/or crumbling (Charles, Flechas & Rabin, 2020; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/latinamerica/latinamerica-top-stories/powerful-caribbean-earthquake-shakes-buildings-in-jamaica-cuba-—-even-downtown-miami/ar-BBZq5VF?MSCC=1580316071&ocid=spartandhp).  

Since 2020 has begun, just 29 days old, there have been almost 9,900 quakes of magnitude 2 or greater as reported by Dr. Tom Pfeiffer, a private tour operator (https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/earthquakes/monthly/news/95198/Earthquake-report-world-wide-for-January-2020.html).  As at January 28, 2020, the strongest of the 10 strongest quakes was measured at 6.8 and it hit Turkey on January 24, 2020. The second strongest quake, measuring 6.3 magnitude, occurred in the Caribbean region, hitting Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020.  However, yesterday’s earthquake of 7.7 was the strongest so far for 2020, affecting the northern part of the Caribbean and stretching along Florida’s coastline.

And, on the health side, as of January 23, 2020, all 800 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the world were all in China, as well as the 25 deaths that had occurred. 

Coronavirus: China combats ever-strengthening disease

By today, January 29, 2020:

“◆ The number of confirmed cases increased to 6,065 on Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization. The number on Tuesday was 4,515, according to China’s National Health Commission.

◆ Thailand has reported 14 cases of infection; Hong Kong has 10; the United States, Taiwan, Australia and Macau have five each; Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia each have reported four; Japan has seven; France has four; Canada has three; Vietnam has two; and Nepal, Cambodia, Germany and the United Arab Emirates each have one.

◆ Cases recorded in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam and Japan involved patients who had not been to China. There have been no reported deaths outside China” (New York Times, January 29, 2020; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/world/asia/coronavirus-china.html).

No doubt, leaders everywhere are assessing their emergency plans, activating old ones, creating new ones, and implementing management systems to manage expected aftershocks.

Do you realize that the same principle holds for our lives?  After years of never experiencing the far-fetched crisis, suddenly it hits our lives.  The unthinkable happens.  The unexpected is now expected.  And, the unfathomable becomes reasonable.  Don’t be caught without an emergency plan for 2020!  Anything can happen!  Everything is possible!  So, work with your team, be they co-workers, or just family and friends, to ensure that all is secure for your future.  Establish a plan that will account for everyone and create a holding pattern until the crisis is past.  

A few ideas include a buddy system at the office or at school, so that you meet your partner and take cover together.  If phone calls have to be made, establish a dialing sequence, so that each person gets notified quickly.  Place emergency plan diagrams in visible areas in your building. And, in case the communication systems fail, designate an assembly point where the group will gather and a fast account can be made of missing persons.

There is no time like the present. We can make it. We just have to plan for it. See “Finding Your Way Out” (https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2017/09/14/finding-your-way-out/) and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

Leadership Qualities: Reengineer Business Processes…

Dalilah Muhammad’s 400m Hurdles World Record | World Athletics Championships 2019 | Doha Moments

Like coaches, effective leaders know that competition is fought with more than just speed, they have to reengineer their outcomes by introducing strength and agility training.

Imagine that you’ve been plagued with the same problem for years.  At the start of every year the team members sit around the table looking to the Head for direction on what they should do.  In the past, you have observed the competition and designed projects to outlast them or to compete with them.  But, what if they have caught on to your game, and changed their strategy by placing obstacles in your way?  What do you do?  You must reengineer your business processes because the old ones no longer work in this new field of competition.

Business process reengineering can be thought of simply as an overhaul of the organisation’s management system in order to redirect them from failure to success.  Take a look at the short video below to understand more about how Michael Hammer’s engineering background led to the development of business process reengineering which ultimately improves effectiveness and efficiency.

Michael Hammer and Business Process Re-engineering

As you look at your processes, and you seek to become more effective and efficient, one of the most important things to remember is that change it is not welcome by most of the team.  However, if it becomes the only option left on the table and management supports it, then it will happen. Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe knows this well as his country is now in the headlines for gender advancement.  Only a few hours have past since the AFP posted the headline (January 22, 2020):

“First woman enters Japan’s submarine academy.”

In light of this announcement, consider that from time immemorial, the Japanese have always had their defense by sea. It is a

“maritime nation surrounded by oceans in every direction and has the world’s sixth longest coastline and the sixth largest exclusive economic zone.
Our trade requires stability of maritime security and an international order since Japan depends heavily on foreign resources, foreign food and overseas markets that rely on sea lanes of communication(SLOCs) for over 90% of its trade.”  

(Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, 2019; https://www.mod.go.jp/msdf/en/about/role/). 

Other sources reveal that the Imperial Japanese Navy was founded in 1868 and fought major wars up until 1945 when it surrendered in World War II, forcing it to be dissolved.  However, Japan immediately formed the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force which exists today.  The Japanese forces became the third largest navy in the world by 1920, behind the Royal Navy and the United States Navy (USN) (For more see Boxer, 1993; Dull, 2013; Evans & Peattie, 1997; Naoyuki, 2019; Stille, 2014). So, why in their long history and training programs, has it taken 152 years for a woman to be accommodated on a Japanese submarine?

The Self-Defense Forces is currently struggling to attract young talent, and even moreso for candidates to serve on submarines.  So, they are looking to women.  Historically, the navy has only allowed men on submarines due to the challenges involved in accommodating gender privacy concerns.  But in late 2018, they revised the rules after realizing that “gender-specific privacy needs” could be met without major submarine remodelling.  Now, the navy is saying that

“This is a part of our efforts for efficient use of human resources.”

(AFP, 2019; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/asia/asia-top-stories/first-woman-enters-japans-submarine-academy/ar-BBZd7qW?MSCC=1579707105&ocid=spartandhp#image=BBSzjPe|93) .

Across the world, other battles are taking place as nations grapple with affordable sources of clean energy (Brinson, no date).  So, Israel and Egypt have signed an agreement on natural gas, which they will later export to Europe.  See the photo by Desouki (2020) and the related caption below.

© Khaled Desouki/ AFP via Getty images
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz displays the signed agreement during the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), in Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 16, 2020. Israel began pumping natural gas to Egypt for the first time on Jan. 15, 2020 under a $15 billion, 15-year deal to liquefy it and re-export it to Europe.   

   There is no time for delay.  Start reengineering your processes now so that you can jump all the hurdles in your race by the end of 2020.  See https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2019/01/14/leadership-defining-the-organization-problem/ and visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .  

Leadership Qualities: A Reason to Fight…

CREED Final Fight 2015 (3/3) DopeClips

Effective leaders find the reason to fight and motivate others with it.

No one ever said that achieving your goals was going to be easy.  Not when there are so many obstacles stacked against you and you have to keep navigating choppy waters, hilly terrain and surviving ambush from predators who already inhabit the space.  But, when you are in the middle of the fight of your life, you don’t want to hear platitudes that say, “Don’t worry. It’s going to be alright.”  You want a commander or a coach who will tell you to dig inside of yourself and find the courage and strength that you need to press on.

That’s exactly what Rocky and Adonis Creed did for each other as Adonis fought the greatest battle of his life to prove himself a man, to prove that he had purpose, and to fight for all those who needed to believe enough to fight again.  He told him,

“Bring back everything that’s ever hurt you, all the pain you have inside; everything that’s ever held you back, put it in both fists and I want you to drive it through his body.  And, I promise you, his head will fall.”

(From “CREED Final Fight 2015,” 2017, 1:38-1:49 mins.).

Motivation can be understood simply as our reason or desire for doing something.  But, take a closer look at psychologist, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory.  You might be surprised to find out that motivation can be viewed in a progressive or expansive way, from the most basic physiological needs to the most complex mental needs of a sense of belonging and ultimately self-actualization.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

As we hit the middle of January 2020, we have to find the motivation to stick to our individual and collective goals for 2020.  We have to take small (and sometimes bigger) steps to accomplish what we desire for ourselves, for our cities and the world.  

I don’t know about you, but when we were growing up, we were told by our elders that the only place where “success” comes before “work,” is in the dictionary. It is still true today!  Be it at school or at work.  

And, effective business leaders know this.  They use the principles found in Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory to motivate their team to success.  Take a few minutes and watch the video below.  You will see that workers, once they have a job, will not simply work for pay.  They work for higher needs like increased responsibility, meaningful contribution, as well as achievement and recognition.  The progressive nature of motivation is seen through the fact that pay, working conditions and effective supervision and policies, although necessary, are not powerful enough to motivate individuals.  

Motivation Theory: Herzberg (Two-Factor Theory)

Success requires focus.  It requires a deep understanding of self and others.  So, it means that your greatest motivation will not be external (extrinsic) but internal (intrinsic).  Ask Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who made his life’s work trying to discover the cause of true happiness.  Faced with adversity in his childhood, he became a

“prisoner during World War II, and he witnessed the pain and suffering of the people around him during this time. As a result, he developed a curiosity about happiness and contentment.” 

(Oppland, 2019; https://positivepsychology.com/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi-father-of-flow/). 

As he strove to find the root of happiness and contentment, he searched the annals of art, philosophy, religion and finally stumbled upon psychology after attending a lecture by Carl Jung.  Now, we have his cumulative work in the concept of flow, which is a state “where self-consciousness is lost, one surrenders completely to the moment, and time means nothing (Csikszentmihalyi, 2013).”

Can I ask you a question? What makes you forget about time?  What captivates you and keeps your attention for hours, though difficult, you are completely at peace as you focus on the task at hand?  Find the answer to that question, and you will find your reason to fight for your life, and for others, throughout 2020.

Until next time, read more about motivation in previous Crystal Clear Vision by Dr. Keisha blogs: “Want to Improve Brain Function?  Get Up and Get Moving!” (https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2017/07/13/want-to-improve-brain-function-get-up-and-get-moving/); and, “Leadership Qualities: Sustainable Growth through Proposing Incentives.”  (https://crystalclearvisionblog.com/2019/09/02/leadership-qualities-sustainable-growth-through-proposing-incentives/).  Also, visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .