So much for “melancholy Danes.”1 For the third time since the publication of the first World Happiness Report in 2012, Denmark is ranked as the happiest country in the world. Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway followed, with the United States ranking 13th in overall happiness.2 The 2016 report is an update in anticipation of the World Happiness Report 2017. Led by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative of the United Nations, these studies aim to establish a scientific, empirically verifiable basis to measure humans’ subjective accounts of their well-being. Most of the differences in happiness among countries and regions result from six key variables: (1) GDP per capita; (2) healthy years of life expectancy; (3) social support (e.g., having someone to count on in times of trouble); (4) trust (as absence of corruption in government and business); (5) perceived freedom to make life decisions; and (6) generosity (e.g., donations to charity). According to the editors of the 2016 update, “increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy.” A fundamental premise of these ongoing studies is that “subjective well-being provides a broader and more inclusive measure of the quality of life than does income.”2
In a chapter entitled Secular Ethics, Richard Layard, Director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Center for Economic Performance, describes three propositions that comprise the “greatest happiness principle.” They are as follows:
1. Human progress should be assessed by the extent to which individuals are enjoying their lives. Enjoyment is defined by the prevalence of happiness and the absence of misery.
2. The objective of governments should be to create the conditions for the greatest possible happiness and the least possible misery.
3. Likewise, every individual has an obligation to create the greatest amount of human happiness in the world and the least misery.
The greatest happiness principle calls for us to care not only about our own wellbeing, but also about the wellbeing of others. Layard states that human nature is both selfish and altruistic. Moreover, he argues that we need an ethical system to promote the altruist within us over the egotist. Historically, ethical codes of conduct have come from various sources, most especially religious traditions. Layard maintains that, “In an ever more secular society we urgently need non-religious organisations which promote ethical living in a way that provides inspiration, uplift, joy and mutual support—through regular meetings of like-minded people.” Such organizations need not be anti-religious; they simply need to provide a structure that will allow for the actualization of the greatest happiness principle.
While there are numerous organizations that can provide such inspiration, uplift, joy, and mutual support, I would like to propose that the workplace provides the greatest opportunity to create these conditions. For the majority of employed people, the workplace is where they spend most of their time. In a sense, workplaces create their ethical codes of conduct. Workplaces have cultures, characterized by values (whether explicit or implicit), and policies. For most people, the type of work they do, those with whom they work, and the rewards of work (monetary and otherwise) are fundamental to their sense of wellbeing and happiness.
What can leaders learn from the World Happiness Report? Income matters to employees, but other factors are more important to fostering a sense of wellbeing. In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink uses decades of research to argue that the secret to high performance and satisfaction is the human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to improve ourselves and our world.3 Pink and others found that monetary rewards work best when the task is simple and straightforward. However, once even rudimentary cognitive skills are involved, larger rewards actually led to poorer performance. Pink found that granting people autonomy and self-direction actually improves engagement with the task and others. He argues that for most people, mastery is also a motivation: we by nature want to get better at what we do. Lastly, people are motivated by purpose—they want to know that what they do matters. I call this type of work meaningful work; and it matters not only in terms of motivation, but also to one’s sense of wellbeing—one’s happiness.
A basic question for leaders is whether the culture of the departments, units, schools, and organizations they lead values autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Policies should foster self-direction. Vision, mission, and values must be discussed, debated, implemented, and lived. The leader’s attitudes and behavior should be consistent with espoused values of individual worth. The leader cannot possibly ensure that a given employee feels happy all of the time, or that the employee has all of his or her desires met. However, the leader does have a responsibility to create a meaningful workplace. If we return to Layard’s three propositions comprising the greatest happiness principle and apply them to our organizations, the leadership challenge might take the form of these questions:
1. What am I doing to ensure that people enjoy working here?
2. How do I create the conditions (culture, opportunities, etc.) in which people can grow, thrive, and make meaningful contributions?
3. How can our organization maximize its purpose to make the community and the world a better place?
I would offer that happiness and wellbeing are not only “a proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy,” but should also serve as a measure of the work environment and the societal goal of our schools and businesses.
1. Shakespeare, W. Hamlet. Simon & Schuster; New Folger Edition, 2003.
2. Helliwell J, Layard R., Sachs J. World Happiness Report 2016, Update (Vol. I). New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2016.
3. Pink, D. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.
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Next month, AAL will say goodbye to its most senior employee, George Weinstein. George has been with AAL since 2008, and has served in variety of different capacities within the company. Prior to his departure, George reflected on his service with AAL:
Describe the various roles you’ve held during your history with AAL.
When I joined AAL in 2008, my primary responsibilities were managing our professional development programs and assisting AAL President Dr. Karl Haden. Because of my writing ability, I soon took on the marketing duties. As AAL continued to grow, new hires allowed me to shift my focus to program management and marketing. In addition, as often happens with the most senior employee, I picked up other tasks along the way, from infrastructure/IT manager to chief of staff.
Dr. Felicia Tucker-Lively, a critical hire for AAL, proved herself so capable as my project manager that I stepped out of my programs oversight role, so she could become Director of Professional Development, where she has continued to excel. That move allowed me to focus in large part on marketing duties, from electronic and print advertising to website creation and improvements to the newsletter and The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders book editor.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve witnessed during your tenure at AAL?
From its founding in 2005, the academy has had two areas of expertise: professional development and consulting services. AAL has grown in both areas due to important hires and increased interest from clients because of word-of-mouth reputation and, to a lesser extent, my marketing efforts. AAL’s extraordinarily capable staff and consultants have enabled us to serve more clients, perform a broader array of consulting services, and offer a wider range of professional development.
At the start of my tenure with AAL, we were exceptionally good at teaching teachers to teach better and showing leaders how to lead better. Now, we do those things even more effectively, but we also have become experts in guiding faculty through the conduct of research, writing for publication, crafting grant applications, career planning, and coaching for professional and personal growth. On the consulting side, we’ve helped a growing number of new professional schools get established and accredited, improved curricula and strategic plans in colleges not just domestically but in other countries, and made clinic operations more cost effective and profitable. In addition, we have invested in the use of big data to improve how programs assess student learning, determine who is achieving competency, and, for those who are not, pinpoint the precise subject matter where they need help. Through a partnership with Certum Informatics and access to their XComP™ product and grading tools, we can give education its long-overdue Moneyball moment.
On a personal note, anyone who works long enough in an organization develops close bonds with peers and those who benefit from the services on offer. My most profound regret about “retiring” from AAL is the loss of daily contact with the friends I’ve made over the years: Karl, Felicia, Marcia, Toby, Becky, Director of Accounting and HR Michele Hill, project manager and editor Jessica Merrill, our newest consultant and Certum senior product manager Wayne Flint, our dozens of other expert consultants, and the faculty, administrators, and staff whose lives literally have been transformed by our offerings. After more than thirty years of employment, I can state that my eight years at AAL has enabled me to participate in the most meaningful work I’ve ever done.
What plans do you have planned for your post-retirement future?
From a young age, I have expressed my thoughts and feelings best through the written word. In my twenties, I courted and wooed my wife-to-be with love letters. At her urging in 2001, I became a full-time writer and wrote four novels between 2002 and 2008, when I decided to join AAL and start earning money again (any authors reading this will attest to the difficulty of making a living solely through writing). So, it’s only natural that—again at my wife’s behest—I will return to writing fulltime in mid-April 2016.
My latest novel—a mystery this time—will be published later this year, and then I’ll embark on yet another book, its genre TBD. My goal is to finish a novel every year or two until I expire, hopefully at an advanced age with many more stories behind me. In addition, I’ve served the Atlanta Writers Club since 2000 and will continue to help emerging writers learn the craft and business of this unique and sometimes puzzling way to spend one’s time.
Those interested in my published works can learn more about them, and correspond with me, via my website: www.georgeweinstein.com.
We wish George joy and success in his next chapter.
by Felicia Tucker-Lively, Ph.D., M.P.H., AAL Director of Professional Development
Women today make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, they earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, 47 percent law degrees, 48 percent medical degrees, and account for 49 percent of the college-educated workforce.1 While progress is being made in some areas, inequities continue to exist for women in terms of their representation in high-level executive leadership positions.2 In spite of women holding more leadership positions in academic medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy than ever before, 75 to 85 percent of deans and department chairs remain men.3 Although some institutions and associations recognize the need for leadership development programs for women, additional preparation for women who aspire to leadership roles in the health professions is essential.4
For more than 10 years, AAL has been dedicated to advancing people and institutions through professional development and consulting services. Answering the call to assist women who aspire to leadership roles in the health professions is aligned with AAL’s mission. This year, AAL is excited to launch the Exceptional Executive Leadership Program for Women (ExcEL for Women) on October 16-18, 2016. During the 2-1/2 day competency-based developmental leadership program, participants will engage in a hands-on structured training and mentorship to enhance their personal and interpersonal leadership skills. The curriculum addresses topics critical to the growth of a high-impact leader:
Leading with greater influence and decisiveness
Developing strategic initiatives
Building your professional network
Heightening your political savvy
The ExcEL for Women facilitators are Dr. Marcia Ditmyer, a Vice President at AAL and Emerita Associate Professor for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine; Dr. Val Gokenbach, a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow and a Former Magnet® Commissioner; and Dr. Felicia Tucker-Lively, Director of Professional Development for AAL. During the ExcEL for Women dinner on October 16, AAL will welcome our special guest speaker Rep. Stacey Abrams, J.D., House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and State Representative for the 89th House District. She is the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African-American to lead in the Georgia House of Representatives. Rep. Abrams will provide inspirational insights about how women can function effectively in their lives and improve their leadership skills.
The ExcEL for Women program will be held at the Château Élan Winery & Resort, just 40 minutes northeast of Atlanta. Château Élan’s resort and spa combine French provincial and Southern hospitality with the beautiful, unspoiled vistas of the North Georgia foothills and lush vineyards of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, and Riesling grapes. See chateauelan.com for additional details.
To register for the ExcEL for Women program prior to the September 9 deadline, please go toaalgroup.org/excel.
The following is an excerpt from Rodriguez TE, M Zhang, FL Tucker-Lively, et al. Survey of the professional development needs of department chairs in academic dental institutions. J Dent Educ 2016;80(3):365-73. The full text can be found at: http://www.jdentaled.org/content/80/3/365.full
Department chairpersons serve as the link between administration and faculty members in their institutions.1 They are expected to be spokespersons for their department, to have expertise in multiple areas, and to elevate the reputation of the department and the school.1,2 AAL recently conducted a study for the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and found many chairs, regardless of their field, struggle to meet the demands of the position due to the growing list of responsibilities and challenges placed upon them. One of the major issues identified in the study was that nearly 70% of department chairs have never received any formal training to prepare them to serve in their roles. Respondents noted that in lieu of formal training, they had to rely solely on “on the job training,” which is consistent throughout higher education.3–6 While many individuals have a great deal of success in their roles as department chairs, few are prepared for the nuances and intricacies associated with the position, which is now seen as more administrative and less academic.7
One solution to promote the success of individuals serving as department chairs is through clarification of roles and expectations. Institutions can provide more specific support to new department chairs by developing comprehensive onboarding protocols. Onboarding is defined as facilitating the transition of an individual into a new position or role.8 In most settings, this process is thought to promote clarity of roles and increase the job satisfaction and retention of the individual.9 Onboarding clarifies performance goals and metrics, and also provides opportunities for the development of skill sets and competencies over a sustained period. One study noted that a key to success in the position is “assimilating a new chair into their position,” which would include “a review of the organization’s culture, governance mechanisms, and key stakeholders.”8
This understanding of the culture, climate, and environment of an institution may help with attrition rates of new chairs. This understanding could be fostered through a formal orientation, which should occur prior to individuals assuming their role as department chair.4 Once individuals have matriculated into the position, descriptions of institutional processes, challenges, and resources (including mentorship) can be provided. Another example of supporting department chairs is selecting those who have sufficient experience for transitioning into the position. Heitz et al. noted that academic experience and managerial skills were necessary to becoming a department chair. Skills such as governance and cross-departmental collaborations could be obtained once established within the role. Thus, department chairs should be provided with professional development opportunities focused on the transference of academic and managerial skill sets.10 This type of exposure, especially early into the tenure of a new chair, provides an opportunity to correct behavior and provide advice.8 Additionally, executive coaching is another supportive action that may promote the success of department chairs. A well-trained executive coach can complement traditional methods of leadership development, and has demonstrated the ability to help “individuals slow down, gain awareness, and notice the effects of their words and actions.”11,12 When provided with executive coaching, department chairs perceived significant benefit in receiving external advice about specific issues, including how to manage organizational change, career guidance, and time.11
Overall, the professional needs of department chairs, regardless of their profession, include themes such as leadership and team development, talent management, vision and strategic planning, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and cultural and structural awareness.4,13 These competencies are typically associated with academic experience, which many new department chairs do not have the luxury of obtaining prior to assuming their positions. To account for this deficiency, institutions need to provide their department chairs with the support and opportunities for development they need. The fundamental understanding of the position and expectations should be used to help calibrate department chairs, and empower them to lead and invigorate their departments and faculty.
1. Hecht IWD, Higgerson ML, Gmelch WH, et al. The Department Chair As Academic Leader. Washington DC: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1998.
10. Heitz C, Hamilton GC. The academic chair in emergency medicine: current demographics and survey results identifying the skills and characteristics desired for the role. J Soc Acad Emerg Med 2011;18:981–987.
11. Geist LJ, Cohen MB. Commentary: mentoring the mentor: executive coaching for clinical departmental executive officers. Acad Med 2010;85:23–25.
12. Sherman S, Freas A. The wild west of executive coaching. Harv Bus Rev 2004;148:82:82–90, 148.
13. Palmer M, Hoffmann-Longtin K, Walvoord E, et al. A competency-based approach to recruiting, developing, and giving feedback to department chairs. Acad Med 2015;90:425–430.
I was awarded the King James IV Professorship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, existing as a corporate body since 1505, established the King James IV lectureship at the turn of the millennium to be awarded annually to practitioners of Surgery and Dental Surgery who have made significant contributions to the clinical and/or scientific basis of surgery, and have acquired a national or international reputation. As is evident from the pedigree of previous awardees of the Professorship, it is noteworthy that I am the first of African descent to receive this award; I am truly humbled by this honor. I am scheduled to deliver the 2016 King James IV Professorship lecture on Friday, April 22, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
How the AAL programs have impacted my career:
They have provided me with a new insight and vision in the art of management and effective leadership.
My philosophy of teaching:
A true measure of effective teaching is that students learn something of value at the end of each class/course. To this point, recognition and awards are secondary matrices.
My philosophy of leadership:
Effective leadership continuously commands a requisite followership
The ADEA/Colgate/AAL Institute for Allied Health Educators (IAHE), a partnership between the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and AAL, with exclusive partnership by the Colgate-Palmolive Company, launched a new online course in October-November 2014: “Revitalizing Curriculum and Calibrating Faculty.” Historically, IAHE courses had attracted 40-60 participants on average. In 2013, the IAHE Clinical Teaching Best Practices course drew in nearly 120 enrollees, a new all-time high. The just-concluded Revitalizing Curriculum and Calibrating Faculty course shattered that record with 153 registrants.
Testimonials included the following:
“It is a great program with excellent content experts. It provides a valuable opportunity to learn with colleagues with varied backgrounds and experiences globally.”
- Dr. Harjit Singh Sehgal, Oregon Health and Science University
“This course was not only timely, but extremely helpful in educating our faculty on current millennial curricular and teaching trends. It has given us a refreshed perspective on where we want to go and how we will get there.”
AAL is continuously working to provide our alumni with the best opportunities and platforms to remain connected and facilitate collaboration. With e-Connect, you can continue your learning engagement long after your program ends. Stay current on the latest educational trends with virtual bi-monthly events, led by program alumni and moderated by AAL. Access our discussion boards to communicate using forums asynchronously, tackle posted topics or create new topics for discussion, and share relevant resources and ideas. Stay tuned for more to follow in the upcoming weeks. If you are interested in leading a discussion, contact Dr. Felicia Tucker-Lively (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your topic(s) of expertise or questions.
In the introduction to David Brooks’ The Road to Character1, the author calls upon a key distinction which will lay the foundation for the rest of the book. Referencing the work of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik inLonely Man of Faith2, Brooks notes that the book of Genesis contains two differing accounts of the creation story. Without getting into specifics, the first account represents an entrepreneurial mentality Soloveitchik calls “Adam I,” while the latter represents a more subdued way of being: “Adam II.” Adam I embodies the striving aspects of our nature–he is ambitious; career-focused; success-oriented. Adam I wants to conquer. In contrast, Adam II is the humbler, more inward-looking being, who is less concerned with accomplishments than he is with purpose. Adam II asks why we are here, and how he can be of value.
As the author states, “We live in a culture that nurtures Adam I and neglects Adam II.” The two modes of living represent the tension between what Brooks calls “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” It is the eulogy virtues that concern Brooks here. In Brooks’ own words, today’s world has “lost the understanding of how character is built”; in the “age of the selfie,” outward markers of success have trumped the inner work of developing a “moral ecology.” Brooks’ aim is to offer portraits of men and women throughout history who built their character the old-fashioned way–slowly and deliberately.
These portraits are diverse, following no clear through-line except for their subjects’ willingness to face their own vulnerabilities head on. Some, like Catholic worker Dorothy Day, find their salvation in religious life; others, like author George Eliot (née Mary Ann Evans), renounce religion entirely. Many have flaws that run counter to their legacy. Dwight D. Eisenhower, celebrated here for his self-restraint, had a notorious temper. Frances Perkins, who was galvanized to fight for fair labor laws after witnessing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, had a fractured and complicated relationship with her own daughter. In each portrait, Brooks does not gloss over the less trumpeted aspects of his subject’s biography. Rather, he takes the long view, examining the “long obedience in the same direction”; the lifetime work of cultivating the inner self.
Not all of the portraits fit easily into Brooks’ value-driven narrative; at times, the characteristics that the author seeks to spotlight can feel shoe-horned on to his subject. And admittedly, Brooks’ transparent pining for the way things were can feel overly broad-brushed and simplistic (though he does openly admit that the halcyon days of true character struggle were a much more difficult time for minorities and women). Still, he has a point. At the risk of selling out my millennial contemporaries, there is a real need–perhaps especially in mine, but across all generations–for individuals to grapple with their own moral code, and spend time with the issues presented by Brooks here. The Road to Character is hardly a “fun” read, but like the long road to character itself, it rewards those who undertake it.
1Brooks, David. The Road to Character. New York: Random House, 2015.
2Soloveitchik, Joseph B. Lonely Man of Faith. New York:Doubleday, 1992.
How EDUCAUSE’s 10 Higher Ed IT Priorities Stack Up
What topics dominate the minds of higher education’s IT leaders?
A recent infographic from EdTech shed light on the top ten issues populating that list. EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit community of IT leaders committed to advancing higher education, surveyed its research panel members to determine the IT concerns at the forefront of colleges and universities.
The number one issue? Information security–a surprising leap from its #10 issue in 2015.
“Optimizing educational technology,” the number 2 issue, was completely absent from the list in 2015.