Effective Leadership Requires Practice

Studies indicate that Jamaicans are often regarded as “hard-working people, proud, aggressive, having strong leadership styles, loyal, and humorous.” Can these traits be harnessed to develop effective leaders? Is effective leadership a learned skill? How do effective leaders lead in challenging times? These were some of the questions addressed by the speakers in JNA’s Summer 2020 leadership seminar, “Effective Leadership in Challenging Times: Jamaican & American Perspectives. JNA is committed to leadership and communication skills training and this seminar is the first in a series to be hosted by JNA. These seminars will feature successful Jamaicans in leadership positions, and other experts who will provide perspectives on leadership and communication skills. These seminars should be of interest to college/university students, professionals, leaders of community organizations and individuals interested in leadership positions. These skills are also useful in individual development and building leaders at an early age. Speakers at this year’s leadership seminar included:
  • Donald B. Christian, CPA, CISA, Advisory leader for Price Waterhouse Coopers – U.S. East Region, Member Board of Trustees, Howard University and Chairman of Jamaican Howard University Affinity Network (JHUAN), an organization created to provide greater support to Jamaican students at Howard University
  • Tracey Jordan, Former Division C Director, District 36 of Toastmasters International, and a Senior Management & Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Labor.
The seminar was moderated by Richard Wilson, Esq., past JNA President and a current member of JNA’s Advisory Council. The speakers demonstrated that they both were practitioners of effective leadership. Employing the skills of a toastmaster, Tracey Jordan used power point tools effectively to demonstrate ‘consequential’ leadership.” She highlighted the need to:
  • Know the 7 leadership styles
  • See the leader in ourselves not just the leader out there somewhere
  • Build a leadership foundation level
  • Build a win-win mentality
  • Become familiar with the works of authorities on leadership such as John Maxwell, a leading authority who has written over 25 books on the subject.
Donald Christian was powerful in his presentation and in particular his explanation of the “Clock and the Compass” concept.” As he explained, our struggle to put first things first can be characterized by the contrast between these two tools that direct us. According to Mr. Christian, the clock represents our commitments, appointments, goals–what we do with and how we manage our time.  On the other hand, “the compass represents our vision, our values, principles, our mission statement, what we feel is important and how we lead our lives”. The struggle comes when we sense a gap between the clock and the compass….when what we do doesn’t contribute to what is most important in our lives. Mr. Christian was equally engaging when he dealt with “followership” the corollary to leadership, and how you help your leader to be effective. He highlighted the importance of creating relationships between the two and the need to coach and mentor . As to the traits associated with Jamaicans, he pointed out that an important trait is a sense of humor. He also referenced the importance of Jamaicans being ambitious, resilient, and inherently inclusive people. As to Jamaican individualism, he indicated that you make this a strength by listening to people and seeking feedback. He also reminded the audience that “active listening” in the world of multi-tasking is an integral part of effective leadership.  Friction is an opportunity to grow and the whole point of feedback is to learn. He also stressed that effective leadership in good times requires the same skills in challenging times.  Some concepts stressed by both Speakers included building your emotional intelligence, taking advantage of upskilling, and having a personal vision or creating a vision statement. Short take-aways offered by both Speakers are that: we are all called to be leaders, leadership is a practice and an opportunity to contribute to yourself, your family and humanity. A long life is not promised. Live your purpose every day. This Seminar is a project of JNA’s Student Outreach & Education Support Committee (SOES), co-chaired by Jennifer Asher. The Seminar was well-received with many kudos to JNA on the presentation. According to Ms. Asher, comments by the public included references to attributes in leaders they admired, such as:
  • A willingness to share knowledge, dedication, and fearlessness,
  • The ability to embrace discomfort, 
  • Those who are servant leaders,
  • Those who are authentic, courageous, and compassionate, and
  • Those living with true convictions who maintain integrity no matter.
Please provide your feedback and volunteer for the SOES Committee which has many exciting activities in the planning.   Written by Jennifer Asher, Rev. Dr. Noel Godfrey and Doreen Thompson, Esq.

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