Contributed by Monique Walker, leadership trainer and business consultant based in Jamaica   OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA - DEC 29: Ocho Rios and Carnival Cruise Victory aerial view from the top of Mystic Mountain on Dec. 29, 2014 in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. When most people think of the Caribbean, they think of islands with beautiful beaches, blue water and wonderful, relaxing vacations. When I think of the Caribbean, I think of the thousands of companies, large and small, that make up the “local” economy (I put “local” in quotes because local could mean one island, several islands within a country such as the Grenadines, or the entire Caribbean). I also think of the many leaders of these companies whom I have had the good fortune to work with over many years. I was asked to write a blog about leadership in the Caribbean, particularly what makes it different from other parts of the world. As I thought about my experiences with business leaders in the Caribbean, I realized that great leadership is the same everywhere. Great leaders build consistent, effective, productive cultures regardless of their home island. But there are at least three specific areas where these leaders need to be particularly effective to succeed – managing their supply chain, managing the incredible diversity of the islands and motivating people. While I recognize that organizations everywhere have the same issues, they take on a unique flavor in the Caribbean. Let’s begin by first examining the supply chain of Caribbean-based companies because it is the most tangible. And, keep in mind that we are talking about islands here. Some of the islands such as Jamaica and Trinidad are big enough and have enough resources to be close to being self-sustaining. However, many islands such as Aruba and Tobago are pretty small and have few natural resources (other than their intrinsic beauty and the sea). This means that much of the economy of these island-based companies is dependent on shipping. If the company is a small one servicing the economy of an island or even part of an island, most of the time it requires supplies from off the island. If the company wants to grow beyond one island, it has to be able to move products and services by air or by boat to all of the islands it serves. If the boat arrives with the supplies, the company at least has the opportunity to thrive. If the boat doesn’t arrive, the company can be crippled because there are few alternatives. This means that paying particular attention to supply chain management is vital to island leadership success. In fact, there is an initiative to create a “Logistics Hub” for the entire Caribbean by 2030 to help with this issue – a very exciting development. The second area of interest is diversity. While there is diversity in most economies, the diversity in the Caribbean is astounding (and potentially enriching). Not only are there big islands and little islands, but the islands, reflecting their many diverse previous and current owners have many different languages, distinct business processes as well as unique customs and cultures. There are French heritage islands such as Martinique, Spanish islands such as the Dominican Republic, British islands such as Jamaica and American islands such as the US Virgin Islands. Over the centuries there has been significant cross-pollination between the islands, but every island has a unique business environment. Leaders need to understand both the business environment of their home island, but if they want to grow — which usually means expanding to other islands – they have to understand and be effective in the diverse cultures of the other islands as well. For example, doing business in Jamaica can be startlingly different from doing business in Haiti or Antigua. Finally, motivation of personnel, while an issue for any leader has a unique dimension in the islands.        The islands are hot all of the time, even in the winter season. Over the centuries, this has led to developing environments that are famous for the slow-pace of island life – which is great for a tourist, but not so good for a business. While the wide-spread use of the internet has significantly increased the pace of business, leaders have to be aware that the heat can slow work and reduce productivity. For leaders of companies based in the Caribbean, becoming highly skilled at motivating others becomes very important. One of the reasons I connected with the Cerebyte team was that I thought they were doing excellent work in the area of motivation and they’ve been very successful at helping their clients increase the motivational levels of their employees. In particular, Cerebyte’s focus on developing a collective purpose as a primary means of motivation is a powerful way to transcend the issues of supply chain, diversity and motivation. If you get the opportunity to visit the Caribbean, please enjoy your stay. But, also think — for just a few seconds while you’re enjoying the sunshine and slowing down to “island time” — about the leadership that made your visit so great. What kind of motivational challenges have you experienced with your team?  MW  Monica-Monique Walker is a leadership trainer and business consultant based in Jamaica. She is a 20-year plus veteran in the field of service quality/standards, and intervention programmes. She is an Adjunct Lecturer; Associate Producer for Carib HR Forum; a certified hospitality Trainer and Educator with American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute, holds a BSc. in Hospitality & Tourism Management and a MSc. in Human Resources Management from Florida International University.]]>

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