De-grouping to be a more effective leader

August 2, 2013

LinkedIn logoYou are probably familiar with the term “re-grouping”. It means taking a breath and a step back from a situation in order to re-assess the current state of it.

Lately, I have been “de-grouping”, mostly on LinkedIn. For a number of years, I have been a member of the maximum number of groups allowed, which is 50. I signed up for groups related to topics I was interested in professionally including leadership, literacy, languages, marketing, education and other topics. I tried to read discussion posts and contribute. I thought it was a good way to keep my pulse on sectors and industries that I felt were important to my career.

What I found was quite the opposite. Instead of staying on top of news and trends, I was inundated with messages, many of which did not help me learn, grow or provide many insights.

On the flip side, I was also unable to contribute much of value to many of the discussions.

I have pared down my membership to 10 LinkedIn groups. Here are the three criteria I used to decide which groups to stay in:

  1.  I personally know some or all of the members. I’ve seen the whites of their eyes and I can easily remember their smile.
  2. I learn something from the discussions.
  3. I can contribute something of value to the discussions from time to time.

For me, cutting back on the number of groups I am a member of on LinkedIn has helped free up time and energy for other activities such as tending to my clients, teaching students and preparing upcoming presentations and workshops for the fall. All in all, being more selective about how I spend my time and energy online has helped me to cultivate my professional and leadership skills overall. I’m still online… just more selectively than ever before.

I have increased energy as I am using laser-focus to determine which activities bring value to my profession and where I can also make a meaningful contribution.

Related post: How to delete LinkedIn contacts who spam you (and why you should) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1CO

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


How ethical are you?

July 25, 2013

In some of the research courses I teach, ethics is one of the topics we cover. In a university, ethics applies to many areas of our work including how we interact with our students and our research assistants, how we grade students’ work and how we conduct research.

Research involving human subjects must receive official approval from the university’s Independent Review Board (IRB) before we are allowed to begin our research. This applies equally to faculty and students.

Sometimes students are quite puzzled by this idea. They ask me, “Why does an independent board have to give you ethics clearance before you start a research project? Shouldn’t people just do the right thing?”

The problem is that sometimes people don’t do the right thing. Or they don’t think through what they are doing to understand what impact of their research or actions might have on others.

In 1971 Dr. Zimbardo conducted a psychological study that became known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. Stanford University students were used as research subjects in the study, which was designed to simulate prison life. The experiment was planned for two weeks, but the shut down the experiment after only six days. The students who were role-playing as guards had become sadistic and malicious. Those who were role-playing as prisoners became depressed and showed signs of severe stress.

The experiment revealed a great deal about human behaviour and how power in a relationship can be easily abused.

The Stanford Prison Experiment has become a classic case to talk about when we learn about professional ethics.

In today’s world, it is unlikely that the experiment conducted by Dr. Zimbardo over 40 years ago would receive ethics clearance from an independent review board. It’s not that Dr. Zimbardo broke any laws. It’s that the risks to the research subjects would be too high.

It is worth noting that professional ethics goes beyond research. Inevitably, our class discussions get around to ethical conduct as part of every day professional practice. Students begin to develop an awareness of how their actions, words and attitudes may be harmful or unethical. I often recommend that they read Better Ethics Now: How to Avoid the Ethics Disaster You Never Saw Coming by Dr. Chris Bauer. He demystifies the topic of ethics in plain and simple language that is easy to understand.

Sometimes they ask me, “How do I know if what I am doing is ethical?”

I usually answer them in two ways:

Firstly, if you have to ask yourself that question, then chances are good that there may be an ethical issue.

Secondly, if you are really not sure, ask yourself this: If your greatest mentor was standing by your side, would they be proud of you for what you did?

That question assumes, of course, that our mentors are ethical, too. More often than not, we put our mentors up on a bit of a pedestal. We want them to be proud of us and we would feel happy if we had their approval.

If our mentors or colleagues disapprove of our actions or question our judgement, we probably are not acting in an ethical manner. Ethics isn’t about doing what’s legal. It’s about doing what’s right.

Every day we are faced with ethical choices as part of our daily professional practice. Ethics can be learned and they can be improved. That’s one of the aspects of Dr. Bauer‘s book that I really like. He let’s us know that everyone is capable of improving and learning to be more aware and more ethical every day.

Professionalism goes beyond using polite language or wearing business attire. At the core of our day-to-day interactions and professional actions, we must take care that we are never causing harm to others or putting them at any sort of risk, particularly when we are in a position of power.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


An open letter to graduate students seeking “information” and help

June 3, 2013

If you haven’t read Carl Zimmer’s “Open letter to science students and science teachers” on the National Geographic blog, drop everything and go read it right now. It is as fascinating as it is infuriating.

In it, Zimmer describes a phenomenon in which he receives multiple requests a week from science students asking him to do their homework for them.

As I read Zimmer’s post, I thought to myself, “I get the exact same kinds of e-mails!” Only mine are related to my field of study, principally education and language learning. The requests often come from people who have read an article or a book I have written.

Unlike Zimmer, the people who write to me are not junior high school or high school students, but rather they are Master’s or Ph.D. students essentially asking me to do their research for them.

It is one thing to write to a scholar to request a copy of an article that he or she has written, or to ask where you can get your hands on such an article. It is quite another to write to someone and say, “This is my research topic. Could you tell me what theoretical framework I should use and maybe write a few lines of my first chapter to get me started?”

I answered the first few dozen e-mails that I received asking for “information”. Then I thought to myself, “What the heck am I doing?” Learning to do research is part of being a graduate student. A big part.

From then on I developed a standard reply that goes something like this:

Dear ___________:

Thank you for your e-mail requesting information on __________________. Your research topic sounds interesting and engaging. I would be happy to help you delve further into your research topic and guide you as you learn more about the finer points of your topic. To get the process rolling, what you need to do is have your research supervisor contact me in writing with a formal invitation to become a member of your thesis committee as an external advisor. That way, I will be able to engage more fully with you, your supervisor and the other scholars who have committed to help you throughout your journey as a graduate student. This is an exciting time for you and I look forward to receiving the formal invitation from your university.

I never hear from them again.

What is happening with our education system (at all levels) where students entitled to ask others to do their work for them?

Zimmer hits the nail on the head… The practice is being touted by other adults (e.g. teachers and parents) as being a “communicative” activity.

Learning how to research and do homework is just as important as learning what the information is– if not more so.

I learned to research for myself. It’s hard work to learn those skills. And it’s something you can only learn by doing. It’s kind of like driving a car… If you only ever learn how to ask others to do it for you, you’ll never really learn the basics, the finer points and the tricks along the way.

It’s your bus. Learn to drive it.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


21st Century Leadership: How Collaboration is Transforming Business Leadership (Webinar)

May 27, 2013

Chinook learning LogoI’m gearing up for a brand new webinar this week that will be offered through Chinook Learning Services.

Although the core principles of leadership are timeless, the skills needed in today’s fast-paced world are different than in decades past. This webinar looks at what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. Reconsider traditional paradigms of leadership and learn why they don’t work today. Find out why collaboration is the hot new trend in leadership and how to use collaboration to mobilize others to take responsibility and take action.

Participant Outcomes

  • Understand emerging trends in 21st century leadership.
  • Understand how collaboration is an effective motivator.
  • Learn key strategies for integrating collaboration into your leadership practice.

Course Content

  1. Trends in 21st century leadership.
  2. Why traditional models of leadership are becoming ineffective.
  3. The role of collaboration in leadership.
  4. Key strategies for collaborative leadership practice.

Find out more about the webinar here.

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Share or Tweet this: 21st Century Leadership: How Collaboration is Transforming Business Leadership (Webinar) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1C5

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


What to do if your child is a cyberbully: 10 Tips for Parents

April 8, 2013

Sarah Eaton's education blogIn earlier posts in this series I talked about what behaviors and personality traits are associated with cyberbullying. So, let’s say you have figured out that your child is harassing or bullying others on line. What can you do?

Here are 10 tips for parents to help you deal with your child or teen.

  1. Address the problem directly. Cyberbullying is not an issue that will go away if you ignore it. You must talk with your child directly. Insist that your child engage with you in a dialogue about his or her behavior.
  2. Explain that the behavior will not be tolerated. Hold the child accountable for his or her actions.
  3. Explain that cyberbullying can be tracked and recorded and reported to school authorities or law enforcement.
  4. Make it clear that safety trumps privacy. A child who has behaved inappropriately in an online environment, loses their privacy privileges.
  5. Discuss the ways that your child can repair the damage he or she has caused. This may include a face-to-face apology or other ways of demonstrating responsibility for his or her actions.
  6. Monitor his or her Internet activities and computer use. The child who cyberbullies is likely to want to be alone in order to engage in inappropriate online activities. Make it clear that parents, grandparents and other caregivers have the right to monitor online activities.
  7. Take electronic devices out of the child’s room. Allow computer use only in common areas of the house such as the kitchen table and ensure the screen is visible to everyone in the room. For example, don’t allow a child to sit on the couch with a laptop so only he or she can see the screen.
  8. Have children and teens surrender mobile devices to parents after a certain time at night. Parents return the mobile devices in the morning. There is no need for children to be using technology unsupervised late at night. If he or she uses their phone as an alarm clock, buy an old-fashioned alarm clock that sits on the night stand. Don’t accept excuses that allow kids to have phones or other mobile devices in their room at night.
  9. Parents must have passwords to all computers and mobile devices. Parents, not children, should have “administrator rights” to all computers.
  10. Seek counseling or mental health care for children who persist with their bullying behavior. Talking to the child’s teacher or school principal can be helpful, too.

As long as cyberbullying remains a secret activity, it is likely to continue. Bring the behaviour out into the open and address it. If necessary, inform grandparents, babysitters and others involved in the child’s life. Ensure that others are involved in helping your child behave appropriately in the online environment.

Remember, it is not uncommon for cyberbullies to suffer from depression or other forms of mental or emotional distress. Cyberbulling may be one sign of a much deeper mental illness that requires treatment and ongoing attention.

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This is the fourth post in my series on child and youth cyberbullying. Check out these related posts:

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References

Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

PureSight Online Child Saftey (Author). (n.d.). What should I do if my child is a cyberbully?   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-child-is-a-cyber-bully.html

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: What to do if your child is a cyberbully: 10 Tips for Parents http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AW

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Profile of a cyberbully: 7 Personality traits to watch for

April 3, 2013

Sarah Eaton's education blogIn a recent post I talked about 5 behaviors that might indicate that that your child is a cyberbully. In addition to behaviors, researchers have also profiled cyberbullies to figure out what personality characteristics are common among those who engage in online bullying.

Do any of these traits describe your child?

Characteristics of a cyberbully

  1. May be introverts, underdogs or underachievers.
  2. May have low self-esteem.
  3. Often feels like a victim themselves.
  4. May not know how to express anger in an appropriate manner.
  5. Would be unlikely to say to someone’s face what they say in cyberspace (especially if  there’s a parent or teacher to witness it).
  6. Use the Internet as a way to “get even” or vent their frustrations.
  7. Often unwilling to take responsibility for their actions.
If this sounds like your child, look for behaviors that correspond to cyberbullying. Having these personality traits alone does not guarantee that your child is a cyberbully, but they may be warning signs. The same characteristics may also be indicators of depression, inability to cope or other mental or emotional distress.Cyberbulling may be a sign of a much deeper mental illness that requires treatment and ongoing attention.
In my next post in this series, I’ll talk about what to do if your child is an online bully and how to get them the treatment they may desperately need.

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Related posts:

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References

Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

PureSight Online Child Saftey (Author). (n.d.). What should I do if my child is a cyberbully?   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-child-is-a-cyber-bully.html

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Profile of a cyberbully: 7 Personality traits to watch for http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AR

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


5 Signs your child is a cyberbully

April 1, 2013

Sarah Eaton's education blogParents, educators and even children are aware that bullying is moving out of the playground and into virtual spaces. According to the American Humane Association, 15% to 20% of children bully others online.

In a previous post I talked about signs to help you figure out if your child is being cyberbullied. But what if your child is the cyberbully?

Here are 5 key indicators that your child is harassing others online:
  1. Is secretive about online activities. The cyberbully does not want to be discovered by parents, grandparents, teachers or others who may hold them accountable.
  2. Quickly switches computer screens or closes the screen when you enter the room or walk by. This is a tactic often used by people who do not want others to discover what they have been doing online. Watch for indicators that your child works to quickly minimize an online browser, close a web page or change screens within a second or two of you approaching the computer they are using. This is a sign that your child does not want you to know what they have been doing online.
  3. Uses the computer or mobile devices late at night or when he or she is unsupervised. Inappropriate online behavior is more likely to occur when the bully feels that no one is watching or supervising their actions. They feel less accountable for their online activity when left alone to misbehave.
  4. Gets extremely upset if computer privileges are revoked. While almost any child in today’s world may get upset if their technology privileges are taken away, the cyberbully may become particularly sulky, defensive or angry. The virtual space is where they feel all-powerful and free of consequences, so when that privilege is revoked, they may feel completely disempowered or oppressed.
  5. Uses multiple online accounts or accounts with a fake name. The cyberbully is likely to take the time to create multiple online accounts using public e-mail systems such as Hotmail, Google or Yahoo, since they feel these are less easily traceable. The cyberbully will often lack the courage to represent themselves online in an authentic and transparent manner.

Cyberbullies often feel like victims themselves. In my next post I’ll talk about characteristics of cyberbullies and how harassing others online may be just one sign of deeper mental or emotional illness.

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Related post: How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied http://wp.me/pNAh3-1w4

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References

Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

PureSight Online Child Saftey (Author). (n.d.). What should I do if my child is a cyberbully?   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-child-is-a-cyber-bully.html

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: 5 Signs your child is a cyberbully http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AM

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


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