Why Leaders Resist Empowering Virtual Teams

Many remote leaders who feel constrained, drained, and isolated are just getting in their own way.

Image courtesy of Gary Waters/theispot.com

For Indira, a midlevel manager in the financial services industry, leading a virtual team has been stressful.1 Now that everyone no longer works in the same office space, opportunities for spontaneous check-ins are limited, so it’s tough to know exactly how or when people are having trouble doing their jobs. As a result, Indira worries that she can’t effectively support her team. She also says her “real work” begins after a long day of video meetings. By the time she’s able to focus on her independent tasks and bigger-picture thinking, she’s burned out, and it’s difficult to be productive.

Indira is not alone. We’ve heard many stories like hers over the past few years in our interviews with hundreds of remote leaders in a range of roles and industries. And studies show that such leaders associate a host of problems (both real and perceived) with all-virtual interactions. For instance, they cite technical difficulties, constrained access to information and resources, distractions at home, social isolation, and ever-blurrier work-life boundaries.2 These issues won’t simply disappear after the global COVID-19 pandemic dies down, because for many businesses and employees, remote work isn’t going away. According to recent surveys, over 80% of business leaders plan to keep at least a partial work-from-home arrangement in place, and executives expect a 30% reduction in physical office space.3

How Facebook Neglects The world And Fuels hate speech and violence in India

A trove of internal documents show Facebook didn’t invest in key safety protocols in the company’s largest market.

In February 2019, not long before India’s general election, a pair of Facebook employees set up a dummy account to better understand the experience of a new user in the company’s largest market. They made a profile of a 21-year-old woman, a resident of North India, and began to track what Facebook showed her.

At first, her feed filled with soft-core porn and other, more harmless, fare. Then violence flared in Kashmir, the site of a long-running territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, campaigning for reelection as a nationalist strongman, unleashed retaliatory airstrikes that India claimed hit a terrorist training camp.

Soon, without any direction from the user, the Facebook account was flooded with pro-Modi propaganda and anti-Muslim hate speech. “300 dogs died now say long live India, death to Pakistan,” one post said, over a background of laughing emoji faces. “These are pakistani dogs,” said the translated caption of one photo of dead bodies lined-up on stretchers, hosted in the News Feed.

An internal Facebook memo, reviewed by The Washington Post, called the dummy account test an “integrity nightmare” that underscored the vast difference between the experience of Facebook in India and what U.S. users typically encounter. One Facebook worker noted the staggering number of dead bodies.

End of carousel

About the same time, in a dorm room in northern India, 8,000 miles away from the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, a Kashmiri student named Junaid told The Post he watched as his real Facebook page flooded with hateful messages. One said Kashmiris were “traitors who deserved to be shot.” Some of his classmates used these posts as their profile pictures on Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

Junaid, who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used for fear of retribution, recalled huddling in his room one evening as groups of men marched outside chanting death to Kashmiris. His phone buzzed with news of students from Kashmir being beaten in the streets — along with more violent Facebook messages.

“Hate spreads like wildfire on Facebook,” Junaid said. “None of the hate speech accounts were blocked.”

Tips for reporting on vaccines, hesitancy and misinformation

Oct 15, 2021 in COVID-19

The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in many parts of the world has given people hope that we may finally be nearing the pandemic’s end. There have been, however, mixed reactions to the immunizations, influenced by an abundance of misinformation.

In a recent ICFJ Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum webinar titled “Reporting Vaccines, Hesitancy and Misinformation without promoting falsehoods,” Tara Haelle, an independent science and health journalist, and the medical studies core topic leader at the Association of Health Care Journalists shared tips for reporting accurately and effectively on the vaccines.


Avoid “both sides” journalism

Journalists should avoid common pitfalls when reporting on vaccines. For instance, don’t offer false information a platform in an attempt to balance conflicting beliefs and attitudes, said Haelle.

Legitimate debate may exist and deserves coverage when it arises, but make sure you address the actual scientific questions in your reporting, and are in touch with the right experts to supply accurate information. Clearly establish what the evidence shows, and offer context on the dissenting viewpoints, such as where the scientific and medical communities stand.

It’s important to know what sources to reach out to for your reporting. “Seek out people who are experts specifically in infectious diseases, vaccines and/or vaccine hesitancy,” said Haelle. “There is a need to be as precise as possible and seek diverse sources. Avoid generalized doctors, nurses and researchers who don’t have expertise in vaccines.”

[Read more: Key quotes: Understanding how COVID-19 vaccines work]

Familiarize yourself with medical research concepts

Understanding efficacy and effectiveness is key when reporting on vaccines. The former involves how well a vaccine works in clinical trials, while the latter deals with how well the vaccine works in the real world. Both can refer to different endpoints: prevention, infection, disease, severe disease, hospitalization or death.

Information from studies requires context. If you come across a shocking or controversial result, make sure you confirm with researchers that you understand the findings correctly. If the information has not been officially published in any journal, check the researcher’s past work and experience, as well as the funders they’ve worked with. This can help you identify signs of ideological bias, determine the quality of their work, and more.

The same applies to data. It can be easy for big numbers to come across as abstract figures. Do not overload on numbers — use the most relevant ones that support your reporting, Haelle suggested. She also urged journalists to always ask for the scientists’ interpretation on the findings.

Avoid sensationalizing

Pay attention to how you frame findings and convey information. When incorporating visuals, avoid dramatic photos. For instance, stay away from close-up pictures of large needles.

It’s critical that your reporting is precise, including when it comes to reporting on vaccine weaknesses, safety concerns and claims. Be careful to support positive reporting about the vaccines with facts, too. You should accurately cover what people need to know.

[Read more: Journalists and the urgency around the COVID-19 vaccine]

Be careful when reporting on vaccine hesitancy

Instead of using terms like “anti-vaxxer,” “vaccine refuser” or “vaccine resistant,” try to understand why some people don’t want the vaccines. Shaming does not change health behaviors. Keep in mind that those who do not vaccinate are a diverse group politically, economically, socially, educationally and religiously. Cultural beliefs may be well-entrenched in communities; be cautious, do not disrespect people.

There are many issues related to vaccine access, especially in lower-income countries. Pay attention to aspects of this issue, such as how vaccine appointments are scheduled. Importantly, don’t conflate hesitancy with a lack of access.

“A lot of people may not have access. Access is not about being able to, or just having a vaccine around the corner. Access also means having access to information that helps you understand the vaccine,” said Haelle.

When it comes to data around vaccine hesitancy, make sure that your reporting comes from reliable sources on the issue, and that you don’t undermine credible public health efforts. If reporting large numbers of vaccine hesitancy, journalists should examine why this is the case despite overwhelming evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective. Journalists should not hide the real numbers or story, but cover it thoroughly.

“You need to be honest as you are reporting the numbers, but you need to be careful about how you convey [them],” said Haelle.

The Danger of Martha’s Vindication

I have noticed a troubling trend in past years when the Gospel reading about Mary and Martha’s encounter with Christ surfaces. Of course, we all know the passage:

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

What usually happens when this passage is discussed is that the speaker or writer immediately comes to the defense of Martha. Some point out that she was a saint (which she was), and others note that she was simply seeking to serve Jesus (which she was). I can’t know the individual motivations behind this tendency, but, regardless, the softening of Martha’s error in judgment runs contrary to what the Holy Spirit is working to reveal to us here. Said another way, to focus on Martha’s sanctity is exactly the opposite focus that the Holy Spirit is drawing us to in this passage.

We know that Martha is a good and holy woman, who is doing a good thing in her desire to serve Jesus. History reveals, as I learned on a recent trip to France, that Martha was not only a good woman, but she was a saint and a great woman. Yet Jesus’ rebuke in this passage is significant and should inspire us to lean in and pay close attention.

Imagine yourself in Martha’s shoes, rushing around to care for Jesus with diligence and love. Jesus knew the inner workings of her heart. He knew of her good desires, intent and concerns. He had the opportunity to honor her efforts, but he didn’t at this moment; quite the opposite.

If we were to render a modern, more sensitive scenario based on almost all the teaching I have heard, the scene would look something like this (Jesus speaking gently):

“Oh Martha, I am grateful for your desire to serve me. You are a good woman and one who obviously has my best interests at heart. I honor you for that. Please know that I greatly appreciate the love and care you are trying to show me. But please, lay down your concerns and rest a bit with me here along with Mary.”

Instead, Jesus conveys something very direct and to the point, “Martha, your focus is off track,” and “Mary, you are exactly on target.” Just to drive this painful interaction one level deeper, he reproves Martha in front of Mary and anyone else who may have been present. She appeals to him, and he rejects the appeal and corrects her.

Why would he do such a thing? Because he loved Martha deeply and the lesson he was attempting to teach was essential to her salvation and her future mission. It was too important to be missed. A subtle, gentle approach could not be risked.

So what was that lesson? What was so important for us to understand that he would risk wounding a heart as good and beautiful as Martha’s?

It is simply this: Prayer is more important than action and that prayer should always precede action. There’s nothing subtle about it. While Martha was a good woman, she had it exactly wrong. Mary had it exactly right.

All of the analysis, at least with respect to this passage, about the good of Martha is dangerous and runs exactly contrary to what Jesus desired to teach her and desires to teach us. We should, instead, allow Jesus to pierce the spiritually destructive facade of our excessively active and distracted culture. We should embrace his rebuke and soberly test ourselves against it.

Maybe it’s time to ask, “If I were in the physical presence of Jesus right now, would He give me that same rebuke, or would I hear, “You have chosen the better part”?

Maybe it’s time we all answered His call to meet Him at His feet so that when we rise to serve, we do so with His power, His insight, His strength. All things for God must begin before God, on our knees.

Don’t make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for workers, NLC tells FG

THE Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the government against making the COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for workers.

The labour union spoke through its President, Ayuba Wabba, during a briefing on the COVID-19 vaccination advisory for federal civil servants in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “The truth is that despite being imperfect, the COVID-19 vaccine has given all of us a better chance of fighting the virus and staying alive.

“I urge workers all over the world to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccines and keep themselves, their families and their colleagues at work safe and free from the morbid threats of the corona pandemic.

“We urge the government and other employers of labour to make special arrangements for workers to access the vaccine at the workplace.”

He, however, urged the Federal Government to use persuasion and conviction rather than force.

“We urge that the tool of persuasion and conviction be used rather than force to get workers and the general populace to take the vaccination.”

The ICIR had earlier reported Boss Mustapha, who leads the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 on October 13, 2021, as saying that Federal Government workers without proof of COVID-19 vaccination or result of tests done within 72 hours would not be allowed to gain entrance into their offices from December 1, 2021.

Nigeria Police (SARS) Kill 20-year-old Daniel Chibuike Onyeukwu

Dominic Onyeukwu managed to save his unborn son’s life during a riot. 20 years on, he could not prevent his son from being killed by SARS

WHEN the Kaduna Riot erupted in February 2000, the late Chibuike Ikeagwuchi was still in his mother’s womb. The riot, which led to over 200 deaths and many properties destroyed, later extended to Kano, where Chibuike’s parents lived at the time.As Chibuike’s mother, Agnes’, due date drew nearer, the riot had intensified. Chibuike’s father, Dominic, decided to prioritize the safety of his wife and family by evacuating them from Kano.

One night in March 2000, Dominic managed to get his plan of escape in motion. But there was a problem. When he and his family arrived at the Sabon Gari Park, the last bus of the F.G. Onyenwe Transport Company to Owerri was almost full, unable to accommodate all six family members.


Dominic decided to put his pregnant wife and four children on the bus so he could stay behind and join them later. He wanted to, as he recalls, “allow my wife and children to arrive home safely without any pressure on the pregnancy.”His family did arrive safely, and so did he, a month and two weeks later. The family had relocated to their hometown at Oboukwu Obizi in the Ezinihitte local government area of Imo State. There, Chibuike Ikeagwuchi was safely delivered.

“I avoided every trouble. I dogged every bullet,” Dominic remembers. “I did everything I could to make sure that the child was safe and secure.”

But two decades later, Dominic would not be in the position to protect his son, who was murdered in cold blood.

It was the afternoon of September 19, 2020. when an officer named Isaiah Bene, attached to the Nigerian Mobile Police Force (MOPOL) at the Elelenwo area of the Obio/Akpor local government in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, killed Chibuike, who had turned 20 just months before.

 Chibuike and his friend, identified as Reuben, were reportedly walking along the road when they saw operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. Having previously heard and seen atrocities committed by the unit, the two friends started running in fear. When they could not keep up, the officers chased after them and raised a false alarm with shouts of “thieves! thieves!”

To avoid being killed, Chibuike and Reuben eventually stopped to explain themselves to the SARS officers, who were still running towards them. During their short wait for the SARS officers to catch up to them, the duo was approached by MOPOL officer Bene, who was stationed in Elelewon.

Reuben recalls emptying the bag he was carrying when he heard a gunshot behind him. Chibuike had been shot in the back by Bene and had fallen face down on the ground. The incident was videoed by eyewitnesses and posted on social media.

When the SARS operatives finally arrived at the scene, they handcuffed Reuben. Chibuike was still breathing at that time, but the SARS operatives refused to take him to the hospital. Instead, they put him on the floor of a tricycle, where he breathed his last breath around 3:00 pm.

While Reuben was taken to the police station, Chibuike was taken to the University of Port Harcourt (UPTH) mortuary.

Dominic heard about Chibuike’s shooting from his (Dominic’s) eldest son, Michael. When he heard, he went to the Elelewon police station, where he requested to see his son but was informed Chibuike was not in their custody.

He then received a phone call from Reuben’s mother, who told him not to leave the police station. When Reuben’s mother arrived at the station, they were allowed to see Reuben, who told them Chibuike had been killed and taken to the mortuary by the SARS operatives. Dominic slumped.

 “I did not know when I fell,” he says.

He was shocked but also angry that his son had not only been shot but taken to the mortuary without his consent. “They allowed my boy to die slowly,” he says.

When Dominic got to the UPTH mortuary that evening, the attendants did not doubt his claim of being the father of the deceased because of the striking resemblance.

By the time I saw his body, he was very dark,” Dominic remembers.

The SARS operatives had dumped Chibuike’s corpse and registered him under the name Daniel Anambra, a 30-year-old accident victim.

Dominic took his son’s corpse and travelled to their hometown, where he ensured Chibuike was buried in the family compound on December 21, 2020.

“The boy was a son I did not know I would lose like that,” the 69-year-old Dominic laments. “He was not a cultist – it was proven beyond reasonable doubt. Throughout the time of his death till now, I never saw any group come to say he was their member.”

Dominic describes his late son, his fifth and last child, as a potential music superstar who went by the stage name Sleek. Chibuike, Dominic reveals, was in a group that already had an album to their credit.

In 2020, Chibuike was admitted to study civil engineering at the Federal University of Owerri (FUTO) but could not attend because of complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to being an artist, he also installed aluminium windows and roofs.

On October 27, 2020, Dominic instituted two separate cases – criminal and human rights – against the Rivers State Command of the Nigerian Police Force in the Rivers State High Court. The human rights case was speedily carried out, and on November 27, 2020, Dominic was awarded the sum of 50 million naira for damages. The criminal case was adjourned to April 14, 2021, while officer Bene was remanded in prison.

Chibuike’s mother, Agnes, cries as she reflects on her son’s life. “Life has never been the same,” she says, sobbing. “I keep calling his number. I was there when they were burying him, but I still call his number [to see] whether he would answer me.”

“Though I have other children, the departure of that boy seems as if 20 people left my house,” she adds.

Dominic, meanwhile, says the loss of his son has shattered him, almost driving him to insanity. “His loss disorganized me,” he explains. “Since his loss, I’ve become disoriented.”

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