ONE SMALL GESTURE CHANGES THE CULTURE OF AMERICA

 

The High Five: raising your hand to hit the palm of your friend after a happy moment; we teach it to our kids, we do it at the office, at a little league game, and watching any sport. OH yes, I did my research, the Dodgers did it first, the volleyball players did it first, but we all remember when Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser did it in 1978. Why? Michigan State University basketball team had the magic and Magic.

I became a huge basketball fan, adjusting the rabbit ears, bringing out the tin foil, because the young man I loved (who became my husband) loves all competitive sports. Reading the sports page of the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, Sports Illustrated, I couldn’t get enough of MSU basketball.

The High Five went viral in the high school I taught in 1979. We did the High Five in class and in the teacher’s lounge. We gave out high fives, we got high fives back. It became a terrific intrinsic teaching tool.

The Midwest Division I schools waited for the big game between Larry Bird and Indiana State number one ranked team and Magic Johnson from MSU to see who had the best skills. Two enormously talented young men with great personalities; Larry Bird and IU were the number one team; but in the NCAA finals, MSU won 75-64. To this day, it remains the highest-rated game in the history of televised college basketball.

Magic and his wingman, Greg Kelser taught the fans the High Five. Maybe they did High Five a couple of times in volleyball and Dodgers- but Magic Johnson with his happy smile and wingman, Greg Kelser, made it real for America.

The High Five- Made in America.

Where Are the Best Leaders?

Where are the best leaders, public or private enterprises?

I have now spent one half my life working for profit enterprises, and the other half working in education. The leaders of education have a different skill set, personalities and priorities than those in the private sector.  Assessing the priority and methods used by the leaders to motivate their employees; there is a clear difference.

In a business, leaders are motivated by the bottom line: Involved in the business, they often work closely with their employees, setting the work rules, the example and praising their employees who do add to that bottom line.  Communicating daily, setting the day’s goals, checking periodically on the progress of the project; and all while performing their own managerial tasks.  Business leaders will use intrinsic rewards, and let the employee have more autonomy as mastery and work ethic is demonstrated. It is in their best interest to make sure the employee is well trained and able to handle his position with independence.

Henry Ford, besides being known for automation, is also remembered for the five dollar day, and eight hour shifts.  He found it was cheaper to pay the five dollars, than it was to retrain new workers several times a year.  Working only eight hours was great for the employee, but it also allowed three working shifts a day.

I have never known a person to become a superintendent of a school district or public enterprise as a first job. They may have the education and the certification to become a leader, but first they must prove themselves by working at the same level as most of the employees, then in middle management, leading to a position in lower management before they become a leader of a large public enterprise. At that point, they are years, buildings, even miles away from their employees.  This allows all the employees almost complete autonomy, giving middle management the power to assess the employee’s mastery and work ethic.

Any enterprise is only as good as its worst employee. Which leader do you think has that knowledge and the power to change that?