Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Humor within Leadership Theory Essay Example for Free
Humor within Leadership Theory Essay The key to the success of any venture is strong leadership (Howe 1994). Courage, vision, and humor are key ingredients in the formula for success. Service to the community or communities also plays a critical role in the development of leadership potential. The importance of humor in this model is fundamental. Every leader has some selfdoubt, but using humor and spiritual authenticity to overcome self-doubt will lead to success and prosperity. And what is said for leaders also can be said for those who are led. Muslim humor is famous all over the Western world. There is an almost endless number of collections, anthologies, and treasuries of Muslim humor, bulging with tens of thousands of Muslim jokes and anecdotes. That the humor of every ethnic group mirrors its conditions of life, its economic, political, and social circumstances, its position vis-a-vis other population groups, is so self-evident that it needs but passing mention. What is perhaps not so apparent is that the jokes, the anecdotes, and the other manifestations of humor are keys to understanding the life of the people in question and can serve as peepholes through which we can look into otherwise hidden corners of existence. As far as muslim communities are concerned, treasuries of Muslim humor can and should be used, and humor should be applied to make the West more likable and admired by the young muslim communities of the world. The techniques and strategies of humor are equally relevant at several levels of living systems, as well as between levels. Thus, the study of humor in multicultural society is interdisciplinary and is becoming a discipline in its own right. The current work is toward methods of negotiation with humor in which the objectives are to obtain a more cooperative long-term relationship and a more rewarding substantive outcome for young muslim communities. Muslim humor is second to no other product of the Muslim mind in revealing the mental state of the Muslims in any given place and at any given time. Whether it contains selfcriticism, directing its barbs at a Muslim group from which the humorist wishes to distance himself, or whether it compares the Muslims and the Gentiles, most often to the latters detriment, the Muslim joke is a manifestation of Muslim thinking and feeling about the in-group and various categories of out-groups. For example, the actor Sasha Cohen in the movie Borat makes young muslims laugh by making fun of Israel, despite him being Muslim himself. It would be ridiculous to pretend that none of the people who found Sasha Cohen funny were laughing at him for the wrong reasons. Some would have been laughing at what they took to be his imitation, others at one further remove, were probably laughing at the black parts of his monstrous hybrid. They laughed louder and longer because he revealed it to be alien, eccentric, and absurd in its snobbery, stupidity, and perverse attachment to numerous forms of destructive hierarchy-class, race, religion. Those dismal qualities were not being exposed from the outside by a stranger but explored from the inside in a daring act of patriotic love. That laughter does not intersperse loathing and self-hatred with manic elation. It helps instead to cultivate the everyday, ordinary virtue involved in managing healthier relationships with otherness that are not deformed by fear, anxiety, and violence. The most powerful weapon for creative mind stretching and therefore for reconstruction is humor, especially when it is self-directed rather than outward bound. Humor directed at another serves to break the lifelong habits of a sickly (symbiotic) relationship between people. Self-directed humor is a real mind healer: By flooding the anxious mind with grotesquely exaggerated fears, it banishes phobias and obsessions. In general, it drastically corrects in the mind and in behavior habitual neurotic (self-sabotaging and destructive) patterns. Humor is a technique involves any action one take to cause the proposals, ideas, or values of another to be rejected in favor of own by getting group members to laugh at, ridicule, or scorn the other persons proposals (Duncan, 1990). Rationalization is founded on trust and respect, and if respect is lost, so too is much of power. While power may abhor a vacuum, it equally abhors scorn. Without respect, dominance cannot be maintained. Getting others to laugh at or denigrate in any way the proposals of others that one oppose is another way to exercise power in the organization. Perhaps the ultimate in withdrawal of consent is laughter. Nyberg (1981) proposes that laughter, not revolution, is more common in overthrowing a regime. Authority fears rejection more than any other threat to its legitimacy. Especially in informal organizations, if the leader loses the respect of the fellows he or she is incapable of securing their compliance in even nominal organizational transactions. Humor is a motivated process of communication between living systems with the goal of reaching agreement about certain joint or reciprocal acts. These acts may involve management of conflict, exchange of resources, or cooperation on actions directed at the mutual environment. Behavior within a system is normally regulated by the template of that system. Internal conflict may indicate a need to amend the template. Humor can be used to modify the template so as to remove the source of conflict. For instance, when negotiation occurs between components or subsystems of a system, as in talks to manage conflict between two divisions of a corporation, the resulting humor may modify the template with respect to the roles and required behavior of the divisions. Three general stances facilitate reflexive humor: not-knowing, curious, and collaborative. They provide a way for individuals to explore, express, and share the views and meanings of situations that, otherwise, can drive them apart. Let us examine each in turn. Not-knowing Stance This stance involves taking the nonexpert position of not knowing. Taking this stance encourages humor by levelling the hierarchies of position and knowledge. While hierarchies exist in all organizations, emphasizing them discourages humor; deemphasizing them encourages humor. Reflexive humor emphasizes equal participation rather than hierarchical power, thereby bringing about a shift from hierarchy to collaboration. Humor is characterized by content and relationship aspects. We all are aware of the content aspect of communication the information that a message is intended to convey. The egalitarian ethic of reflexive humor eliminates the positions of hierarchy and power in the humor. A not-knowing stance conveys the message that everyone is equally qualified to generate ideas, opinions, and perspectives about a situation or a problem. This means that the manager enters into the dialogue without any preconceived notions or ideas. The not-knowing stance also encourages listeners to attend to both the Ã¢â¬Å"outerÃ¢â¬ humor of others as well as to their own Ã¢â¬Å"innerÃ¢â¬ humor. This egalitarian approach encourages each participant to contribute to the mutual exploration of ideas. Curious Stance The curious stance simply means that one expresses ones ideas in a funny manner. A dogmatic or assertive expression of ideas often hinders the creative process, but a comic mode of expression encourages others to take, leave, or develop ideas at will without vesting or territoriality. This climate encourages the free exchange of ideas on their own merit and without threat of penalty. Taking this stance helps to multiply varying perspectives on a problem and, naturally, leads to an evolved solution. A final advantage is that emergent solutions are usually not only the best thought-out and most fitting but also explored and designed by the individuals who will implement them. Collaborative Stance This stance is the result of the two preceding stances. The shared perspectives, ideas, and meanings contributed by the conversants evolve into common knowledge. This process filters many levels of perceptions and triggers deep involvement among participants making possible the co-construction of a jointly-owned outcome. They bring about better understanding among individuals whose culture and gender may create varying perceptions of the same reality. There is nothing simple about dealing with diversity. Diversity is one of the most complex and refracted areas of management because it involves the intimacy of the self with the impersonality. The first step in implementing reflexive humor in university setting is to form small, voluntary, diverse groups. Participants can come from either the same class or a variety of divisions. There are only two rules for membership in the group commitment and confidentiality. One quickly comes to realize that the premises and stances of reflexive humor are not part of normal communication repertoire. People have learned to function in the hierarchical worlds of home, school, and, the university. In these settings they do not always relate to one another on an egalitarian basis. Much less accepted is the practice of communicating with others, whether colleagues or superiors, from a curious or not-knowing stance. Furthermore, assuming a collaborative stance in their dealings with one another is not an everyday occurrence either. One achieves competence in reflexive humor through learnable skills that require practice. One trains individuals in reflexive humor by introducing each premise and stance and allowing time for practice. The individual being trained acquires the command of one skill before moving on to the next. It may be difficult to begin the training by talking about diversity issues. To create a conducive climate, groups might begin by discussing study-related or other relatively neutral matters because such topics are more familiar and potentially less explosive. Reflexive humor is a general theory that lends itself to any communication context. Therefore, in any setting or on any topic, the process of reflexive humor will evoke multiple points of view and generate mutual self-awareness for the participants. Jointly concentrating on common tasks is an excellent way to begin diversity training. With practice, the process of reflexive humor will engender a sense of trust among its participants. The structure of reflexive humor creates an environment wherein participants can freely exchange their views and, eventually, communicate with one another on deeper and more meaningful levels. Trust and synergy. Ã¢â¬ ¢ Trust reduces the amount of time and energy wasted in suspicion and politics. This time and effort can therefore be better deployed on added-value activities that help to deliver the purpose and vision. Ã¢â¬ ¢ When trust, competence and alignment come together we can achieve synergy, and unlock high performance. Ã¢â¬ ¢ To develop into an attuned team the members of the group have to be able to trust each other. Reflexive humor is a new approach to face-to-face communication. It offers a process by which one can access the uniqueness of each individual as well as each individuals cultural paradigm. Through this approach, individuals can better generate information and co-construct those mutual realities that lead to enhanced problem solving. Reflexive humor is particularly useful to individuals from different cultures who wish to establish a common ground for mutual understanding and action. Humor is not just joking, and management is not just the bloodless supervision of humans in the machine-like achievement of goals. Human emotions and feelings are involved in many issues, especially in culturally diverse settings. The reflection of feeling captures the emotional aspect of human nature. The purpose of this microskill is to identify and make explicit emotions that are often concealed allowing the listener to tune into the speakers emotional experience. While nothing seems more ordinary than to empathize with another, the reflection of feeling has a specific structure. The reflection of feeling informs the speaker that you are aware of his or her emotions. This in turn encourages the speaker to clarify further the issue at hand. The listener needs to be cautious about inaccurately labelling feelings. Adequate time and care must be given to identify the precise feeling correctly. Mislabelling an emotion is a sure sign of misunderstanding the speaker. The reflection of meaning may be the microskill that is most relevant to the diverse workplace. It has to do with how different racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural groups organize life and experiences as well as the meaning they draw from those experiences. This microskill may appear to be very much like the preceding ones of the paraphrase (which restates thoughts) or the reflection of feeling (which reflects emotions). Indeed, the reflection of meaning combines thoughts and meanings. One should remember that both reflecting skills of humor deal with profound issues emotions, values, meanings, and the particular sense each one of us makes of the world. Neither skill should be used insincerely or manipulatively. Inappropriate use can cause as much anger and distrust, on the one hand, as understanding and trust, on the other. However, used ethically, with a sincere attitude, no microskill is more useful, what joke one may make of situation, what values may motivate seemingly culturally different behaviors, or why an action or word that is unimportant (or important) to you may be important (or unimportant) to a colleague. Patterns of eye contact and gaze also play an underestimated role in sense of humor. White males have their own, unique, eye contact patterns. When speaking, a white male looks away from the listener most of the time, making eye contact with the listener to emphasize significant points. While listening, a white male looks at the speaker most of the time. Eye contact indicates that the listener is paying attention to what is being said. Another pattern of eye contact signals the moment when turn-taking occurs for speaker and listener. Generally, when the speaker is nearing the end of a statement, he briefly looks away from the listener. Then, upon finishing the utterance, he reestablishes eye contact to signal that it is the turn of the other person to speak. Major humor problems can result if eye contact patterns are not in synchrony. Without either conversant being consciously aware of it, at appropriate times in the white male style a trustworthy person looks in the eye, while an untrustworthy person does not. If both parties share this pattern, conversation flows smoothly. If the patterns are at odds, one may call the other shifty, while the other may feel uncomfortable. In such a situation, the humor becomes strained, and the participants are conscious of that fact. White males do not seem to employ or recognize the value of nonverbal communication, in general, or of eye contact, in particular. Yet, it is evident that eye contact patterns play a significant role in effective humor. The general white male pattern is for speakers to gaze less at listeners and for listeners to gaze more at speakers. This is how white male listeners demonstrate their intentional listening or attending behavior. One of the most significant characteristics of the Muslim verbal communication style is its oral tradition. Muslims were forcibly transported from traditional societies that were oral. The heritage of orality may be most evident in two areas of the Muslim verbal communication style: the mode of listening, and the importance of expressing feeling during interpersonal interaction. Comparative studies have found that Muslims and whites have different verbal communication styles. Whites tend to make more use of the attending or listening skills in their face-to-face communication by using a forward lean of the upper body or asking open-ended questions. Muslims tend to be more directive by giving advice or confronting. An earlier discussion of microskills noted that open questions are less direct and invite a conversational partner to provide more information on a topic while closed questions tend to retrieve specific pieces of information and limit dialogue. Depending upon the circumstances, each type of question is equally valid. However, a dialogue with predominantly closed questions can take on the tone of an interrogation. Similarly, humor replete with open questions lends a less tenuous tone by giving respondents more room to provide information at their own pace. Therefore, the type of question sets the tone of a conversation. The Muslims expression of feeling may also contrast with white expression of feeling. Whereas emotions may be more openly expressed according to the Muslim humor paradigm, they are more repressed by the mainstream white paradigm. According to the Muslim humor paradigm, one is more congruent when one expresses emotions. According to the norm of the white male humor paradigm, one expresses ones reason and logic dispassionately. For many Muslims, the expression of feeling is crucial to genuine humor between individuals. Therefore, in the Muslim paradigm one is credible when one expresses emotions; one is more credible when emotions are expressed resolutely. Thomas Kochman, scholar of linguistics, holds that one achieves ultimate credibility when logic and affect harmoniously intertwine. Only then can there be congruence between ones thoughts and verbal communication. When one represses thoughts and feelings and expresses only logical thoughts, the discrepancy is likely to emerge through nonverbal behavior, such as moving away or breaking eye contact. The meanings that may be attributed to such incongruencies according to the Muslim communication paradigm may range from deceit or hypocrisy to weakness. The Muslim style of greater and more open expression of feeling can result in behaviors that may seem overly assertive and even confrontational to many whites. In conflictual situations, Muslim nonverbals tend to include loud tones of voice, intense eye contact, and sweeping gestures. Verbally, Muslims may freely express their emotions and, according to Kochman, directly challenge not only facts or ideas but also the individuals who present them. Many may interpret such behaviors as not only confrontational but also preludes to aggression. However, for Muslims the expression of ones mind and spirit only mean being true to oneself. Whether one stands close together or far apart can make people feel more or less comfortable in dealing with one another. Some research indicates that, while conversing, Muslim children tend to stand closer together (Baxter 1973). In her analysis of research on proxemics, Halberstadt found that Muslims tend to stand closer to one another when young but farther apart when older Ã¢â¬â Muslim primary school children stand closer together than Muslim junior high or high school students. Distances increased still more for Muslim adults. Additional research indicates that Muslim adults tend to greet each other and stand somewhat further apart than other ethnic groups. Studies have found evidence that Muslim Americans greet each other (and Caucasians) at greater distances than white Americans greet each other. A comparative study showed that Muslim Americans interact at the greatest distances, Mexican Americans interact at the closest distances, and white Americans interact at intermediate distances (Baxter 1973). Another study concluded that during interviews whites tend to sit farther away from Muslims than they do from other whites. Humor is particularly significant to Muslims. The heritage of humanism and person-oriented behavior as well as the tendency to express emotions freely inclines some Muslims to be more reliant upon humor. On the basis of her review of the literature, educator Janice Hale-Benson states that Muslims are more proficient than are whites in expressing and detecting emotions. Any sign of understanding what another person has told encourages him or her to say more. Paraphrasing more powerfully encourages continuing the humor and elaborating thoughts resulting in more details about concerns and issues. One paraphrases by restating, in ones own words, the essence of what a colleague has said. Paraphrasing has three specific components: beginning stem; restatement; and concluding, checking stem. Mens body postures tend to convey messages of gender power and dominance rather than of affiliation. Often such kinesic behavior discourages rather than invites humor. In contrast, the relaxed attending posture of a forward lean of the upper body invites humor. Such attending nonverbal humor reflects an individuals openness and willingness to listen and enter into a friendly humor. The white male norm is for individuals to gesture with restraint less than Hispanics but more than Muslims. Wrists and hands are used much more than arms to gesture. Except at times of great joy or sorrow, elbows generally are not raised above shoulder level. Those who gesture more than this norm may be considered flamboyant; individuals who gesture less than this norm may be considered uptight or cold fish. A new approach to managing diversity is necessary. Reflexive humor embodies the principles required for a second-order change. Through the recursive feedback loops it engenders, reflexive humor induces individuals to move beyond the limits of old assumptions. Furthermore, by flattening the hierarchy, its egalitarianism encourages the participation that unfolds to find new and creative solutions. This new approach to humor delineates how individuals can come together to work on constructing mutual realities. The process of reflexive humor establishes commonalities rather than magnifying differences. It provides individuals with the opportunity to come to know one another through a continuous process of mutual interchange. Such an approach inclines to modify subjective meanings and to create the common grounds that are the bases for common understanding. The reflexive process of sharing information creates the recursive loops by which one clarifies and reduces the uncertainties that all have about each other. Therefore, the nature of this change is both organic and evolutionary. The second-order change induced by reflexive humor is not the result of external injunctions by trainers to change ones assumptions about groups, as may have been true of some previous training approaches. Rather, the change produced by humor is the result of a volitional, egalitarian, and mutually-induced process. The continuous interchange of humor creates the fertile ground where individuals studying together co-create solutions of a second-order change. This change emanates from newly-developed assumptions based on newly-generated realities. In effect, humor induces greater convergence in the thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and meanings of the individuals who engage in it. As Johns Hopkins linguist Lawrence Kincaid puts it, an effective humor logically leads to the Ã¢â¬Å"state of greater uniformity, or the successive reduction of diversityÃ¢â¬ (Lawrence 1988). Thus, applying humor in the diverse society can lead to a place where the construction of new realities is possible. This is where cultural issues and cultural differences meld, and a new reality ensues as a result of the information-sharing process. Hence, myths about differences begin to diminish and common realities begin to evolve. From these emerge the common ground, the convergence that is essential for the shared understanding that common action requires. Humor is the missing link of diversity training. It is the second-order process by which individuals can mutually change themselves and each other according to their own pace and direction. Humor is perhaps the least tangible aspect of organizational life, but it seems to have very powerful and tangible effects on people from different cultures. In a high energy atmosphere one can sense peoples excitement just by watching the way they move, the way they interact and go about their business, and even the expressions on their faces. When one walks out of a very positive atmosphere, one wants to go back. If the atmosphere is stifling, unwelcoming, filled with tension, and not much fun, then one does not want to return. If the place happens to be ones workplace, the effect can be very powerful. The microskills are specific tools that enhance the humor process. They are relatively easy to learn. The skills are best learned oneat-a-time. Following the presentation and discussion, practice provides a hands-on approach to the mastery of each skill. As one gains proficiency in one skill, another is added and practiced simultaneously. Thus, each remaining skill is added until the complete set of microskills has been acquired. The key to proficiency with the microskills is practice. While these skills are easy to comprehend and implement individually, making them part of studentsÃ¢â¬â¢ everyday behavior may not be as easy. Only through continued conscious effort in using and practicing the skills can we successfully make them part of our behavioral repertoire. They are skills that can be applied to any life setting to enhance understanding of one another and, hence, relationships. References Baxter C. ( 1973). Ã¢â¬Å"Interpersonal spacing in two-person cross-cultural interactionsÃ¢â¬ . Man-Environment Systems, 3. D. Lawrence Kincaid. (1988). The convergence theory and intercultural communication. In Young Yun Kim William B. Gundykunst (Eds. ), Theories in intercultural communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Howe, Susan E. S. (1994). Ã¢â¬Å"Exploring New Leadership Styles. Ã¢â¬ Pennsylvania CPA Journal 65, no. 1. Nyberg, David. (1981). Power Over Power. Ithaca, N. Y. : Cornell University Press. Thomas Kochman. (1981). Black and white styles in conflict. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.