Social Distancing & Logos

The brands we know have now embraced Social Distancing. Popular brands such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and others have modified their iconic logos to recognize social distancing. Are these changes sensitive or insensitive?

Interpretation is through the perspective of each person. Critics have said the logo change is a way of capitalizing on the fear surrounding the virus. A way to generate chatter or acceptance in a challenging time for the world.

I support the logo changes. There is little doubt that effective social distancing will help slow the spread of the virus. The more disciplined we are now, the sooner we can see restrictions lifted. If the logo changes by big businesses help encourage consumers and employees to have second thoughts to run an errand or meet with someone, I am all for it.


The past few weeks have been an awakening for all of us. A glimpse into our own vulnerability in the face of a virus that cuts across age, culture, region, class, and country. It’s a crisis for humanity and one of the first times we have faced a global challenge as humans.

As we all practice social distancing and reduce both our exposure as well as the risk of exposing others, we have discovered a new normal. Some of us find ourselves immersed in our families even more than before, some are dealing with the loneliness of being being physically isolated from a circle of friends who enjoyed being out and enjoying crowds. Many people are experiencing this time while struggling with the economic aspects of our shutdown.

For example, I usually drive to the office several days a week. Working from home full time, eliminates 3.5 hours of commuting. Combining several trips a week to the grocery store, now has become 1 very focused trip per week. Reduction in the time for extra-curricular activities at school, pick-ups and drop-offs, school concerts and events, even Friday happy hour with friends, means more time at home. Wherever that home might be.


What will you do with yours? Call your parents every other day? Take an online class? Finish that work project? Paint a room? Call the neighbor next door to see if they need anything. Shoot hoops? The choice of what to do with time is up to you. We can all come through this experience feeling that we did not use the time wisely, or we can feel like we accomplished something.

I would also ask that everyone recognize those that are financially disadvantaged by this event. Strict adherence to social distancing will reduce the amount of time that the closures are in effect. We need to come out of the other side of the infection spread so that we can remove restrictions and reopen the economy.

Reading and Art Lessons, for Children

Oliver Jeffers

Along with adjusting to working from home and juggling childcare arrangements, parents around the world are now having to work out how to entertain restless kids as schools and nurseries are closed down in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus. Streaming platforms can provide some respite, but there’s only so much Netflix you can watch in a day.

Thankfully, a group of children’s book authors and illustrators have decided to use their skills to help bring some entertainment to families in isolation.

On Sunday, Oliver Jeffers announced he would be reading one of his books every day until people are able to leave their homes. Readings take place at 6pm UK time and are broadcast via Instagram Stories, meaning viewers in different time zones can tune in and watch any time within the following 24 hours. All broadcasts have been recorded and will also be added to Jeffers’ website.

Mac Barnett – the author behind the Jack Book and KidSpy series – is also broadcasting live readings via Instagram at 12pm Pacific time, which are available to watch for 24 hours. In a post announcing the readings, Barnett said he had around a month’s worth of picture books – “and if we run out I might read some chapter books”, he wrote.

Other authors are using Facebook and Instagram to run collaborative exercises and virtual art clubs. Chris Haughton – author of Oh, No George! – is broadcasting readings and daily art activities on his Facebook page at 5pm each weekday, and has created downloadable activity sheets for adults and kids to use at home. On Wednesday March 18, Haughton will be reading his book Shh! We Have a Plan before creating a collage using prompts from viewers.

“I actually think this lockdown is a really unique opportunity,” he wrote on Instagram. “When I was a young child I loved drawing and would happily spend hours on my own, completely consumed in drawing. I still do. I want to show children how much fun it can be.”

Portland-based illustrator and author Carson Ellis, meanwhile, has been running a digital art club, posting exercises for kids and adults each morning using the hashtag #quarantineartclub. Tasks so far have included creating a self-portrait and coming up with prompts that could inspire drawings and paintings, and Ellis has been sharing selected responses via her Instagram feed.

With people feeling anxious and worried about their health – and the impact of an extended period of self-isolation – it’s heartwarming to see illustrators and authors using their skills to bring a little joy to people’s daily routine and encourage some creative thinking and communication among readers.

@oliverjeffers@macbarnett; @chrishaughton; @carsonellis

Manage the Long Game

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Expuery

When Competition Leads to Unethical Behavior

Many of us love competition and, more important, winning. Competition drives us toward our goals and motivates us to improve our performance, while the prestige and power that come from winning can provide a powerful morale booster. What’s more, winning increases testosterone and dopamine hormones, which, in turn, increases our confidence and willingness to take risks, and thus our chances of further success.

At the same time, the need to win can blind us to ethical considerations. It’s a potential problem in all kinds of areas: colleagues who have a strong rivalry at work, managers who need to make their numbers for the quarter, even political parties that spend campaign funds to attract votes. A common theme in these situations is that there are only a few winning slots — and maybe just one — with massive stakes in terms of money, advancement, and fame.

What’s often driving this fierce competition is the knowledge that our performance is being assessed not in absolute terms but in comparison with others’. In the workplace, such “rank-and-yank” methods — also known as the vitality curve, forced rankings, and stacking systems — are regularly used to judge performance, whereby, say, the top 20% of employees are categorized as high performers and the bottom 10% face redundancy. Similarly, the bell-curve grading in an MBA classroom ensures that students are categorized and graded relative to peers, without considering their overall performance.

In our research, recently published in the journal Human Resource Management, we found that performance evaluation schemes based on peer comparison can encourage unethical behavior. In one study, we asked 164 MBA students to read a hypothetical scenario (based on a true story) about an investment banker facing an ethical dilemma, and to estimate the likelihood that this banker would indulge in unethical behavior. The students were randomly assigned to three conditions for how the banker would be paid: a fixed salary with no bonus; a fixed salary with a bonus tied to the banker’s number of trades; and a fixed salary with a bonus tied to the banker’s performance relative to his peers. (For more details of this study and the ones below, see the sidebar “Our Studies.”) Our results showed that the students in the relative performance condition expected the banker to be more likely to behave in an unethical manner.

Our Studies

In another study, we investigated people’s ethical behavior in self-reporting their performance. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, we invited 160 participants of U.S. origin to participate in a 10-question IQ quiz. They were asked to self-verify their answers and report their scores to us. Again, participants were randomly assigned to one of three compensation groups: a fixed participation fee of 10 cents, irrespective of performance; a fixed fee with a bonus based on the number of correct answers they reported; and a fixed fee with a bonus for only the top scorers. The results surprised us. The groups didn’t differ much in performance, and most participants overreported their scores. But both the incidence and the magnitude of overreporting was highest in the third group, the one in which only top performers received a bonus. Notably, every single person in the group overreported their score. In short, the competitive pressure and the comparisons encouraged rule breaking.

Organizations continue to experiment with and debate the pros and cons of comparison-based performance management systems. In recent years, for example, Yahoo endorsed them, while Microsoft abandoned them. One thing is clear, though: Relative comparisons are widespread and here to stay. Given that, what can be done to limit possible temptations of ethical breaches that accompany such competitive comparative settings?

We propose a subtle and simple intervention we call consequential reflection: prompt individuals to reflect on the positive and negative consequences of their decisions. In another study of ours, participants who took a moment to think and write down such possible consequences were less willing to act unethically. Again on Mechanical Turk, we invited 184 participants of U.S. origin to participate in a decision-making scenario. Participants assumed the role of a university professor, close to tenure evaluation, who had a manuscript under review with a top journal. The data analysis for the manuscript had not provided desirable results, and as a result the professor was tempted to manipulate the data. Participants were asked how likely it was that they would manipulate the data, with some participants being prompted to consider the consequences. We found that those participants were significantly less likely to take unethical action.

Why would this kind of prompt be effective? Research on the human mind tells us we run on autopilot much of the time. The pressures of our jobs mean we often don’t take time to pause and reflect. Therefore, our intuitive, habitual behaviors take over. In matters of ethics, this can lead to a self-centered, “me-first” attitude, focused on the immediate benefits for ourselves and ignoring the long-term consequences of ethical lapses.

To put this idea into practice, we propose that leaders try the following:

  • Conduct pre-mortems. Ask employees and teams to regularly stop and reflect before making crucial ethically charged decisions. Instead of diagnosing decisions after the fact, take the time to think about their positive and negative consequences early on.
  • Organize ethics hackathons. On a regular basis, get team members together to share upcoming decisions. Let peers dissect them, play devil’s advocate, and raise possible issues with various stakeholders.
  • Train for reflection. Encourage employees to embrace a reflective, mindful approach to decision making. Training sessions on mindfulness can be beneficial for helping employees to slow down and think critically.
  • Make ethics part of culture. Include consequential reflection in values statements and culture guidelines in your organization. Reminders such as “Think first” and “Seek opinions” can be placed prominently in offices.

We believe the strengths of our intervention are that it’s effective, cheap and easy to implement, and unlikely to provoke strong objections from people. As our research shows, simple psychological interventions can be a valuable part of an organization’s tool kit for creating an ethical culture.

Kriti Jain is assistant professor in organizational behavior and human resources at IE Business School. Her research focuses on judgment and decision making.

Emotional Intelligence – EQ

Emotional Intelligence Is the Other Kind of Smart.

When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses in 1995, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.


Personal competence is made up of your self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on you individually than on your interactions with other people. Personal competence is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior and tendencies.Today In: Leadership

  • Self-Awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen.
  • Self-Management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior.

Social competence is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills; social competence is your ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior, and motives in order to improve the quality of your relationships.

  • Social Awareness is your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on.
  • Relationship Management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions and the others’ emotions to manage interactions successfully.

Emotional Intelligence, IQ, and Personality Are Different.

Emotional intelligence taps into a fundamental element of human behavior that is distinct from your intellect. There is no known connection between IQ and emotional intelligence; you simply can’t predict emotional intelligence based on how smart someone is. Intelligence is your ability to learn, and it’s the same at age 15 as it is at age 50. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.

Personality is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s the stable “style” that defines each of us. Personality is the result of hard-wired preferences, such as the inclination toward introversion or extroversion. However, like IQ, personality can’t be used to predict emotional intelligence. Also like IQ, personality is stable over a lifetime and doesn’t change. IQ, emotional intelligence, and personality each cover unique ground and help to explain what makes a person tick.

Emotional Intelligence Is Linked to Performance.


How much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your professional success? The short answer is: a lot! It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.

Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you say and do each day. Emotional intelligence is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.

Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim. Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Developed.

The communication between your emotional and rational “brains” is the physical source of emotional intelligence. The pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain, at the spinal cord. Your primary senses enter here and must travel to the front of your brain before you can think rationally about your experience. However, first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before our rational mind is able to engage. Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centers of the brain.


“Plasticity” is the term neurologists use to describe the brain’s ability to change. Your brain grows new connections as you learn new skills. The change is gradual, as your brain cells develop new connections to speed the efficiency of new skills acquired.

Using strategies to increase your emotional intelligence allows the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional centers of your brain to branch off small “arms” (much like a tree) to reach out to the other cells. A single cell can grow 15,000 connections with its neighbors. This chain reaction of growth ensures it’s easier to kick this new behavior into action in the future. Once you train your brain by repeatedly using new emotional intelligence strategies, emotionally intelligent behaviors become habits.

Travis Bradberry, I cover emotional intelligence and leadership performance. Originally printed:

Distancing Means Getting Closer

(Newscom TagID: sfphotosfour530454.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

We have all had a chance to read the data and results of social distancing. There are no doubt benefits–reducing social gatherings, working remotely, schools suspending classes. But being socially distant can really be an opportunity to get closer.

Think about it.

Working from home will give, most of us, an extra hour or two each day. Reducing the “guilt” of social gatherings gives us each more time with members of our families. Children being at home instead of school 5 days a week, means time gained with your children that you would have lost.

In terms of work, it gives you more time to connect with colleagues at work. Take the time that you have gained and spend an extra fifteen minutes with someone who just a few weeks ago, might have been lost in the shuffle.