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COVID & Mandatory Mask Wearing

From Power dynamics of mask-wearing

Lucio: Thanks for the indirect heads up.
I've taken Covid seriously this whole time will keep doing so until I think it makes sense.
But mandatory masks outside is an overkill in my opinion.

I think this is under lifestyle so I posted it here.

Lucio, I am not sure what you mean by the indirect heads up.

Singapore is really going overkill in my opinion.
Mandatory mask-wearing once you step out of the door even when you are vaccinated.

I think the Singapore government focuses a lot on the country's image on the global stage.
In this case, the Singapore government wants to show how well they deal with the COVID situation.
Medical tourism is quite big here.
A few wealthy families have come here as a result of COVID.

In other words, don't come to Singapore if you don't like to wear masks :).
I am even thinking of going somewhere for a break to enjoy not wearing masks since I am vaccinated.

Though I am aware that there is a new mutant strain that may render the vaccine ineffective.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, I think you got it.

By "indirect heads-up" I mean that even though it wasn't the main aim of the previous thread, it still provided information on "places are not the best places to be in right now" :).

I'm not sure about the government incentives to crack down so hard.
The one you propose sounds possible, although I'd wonder if that makes economic sense, at least from a rational point of view. As a highly advanced economy, there are many sectors in Singapore that bring in revenue, so I'd wonder if (potentially) promoting just one at the (real) detriment of many others -tourism, bars, restaurants, etc.- isn't going to harm more than help.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Interesting anyway to see how different governments approach things and how different places/people react.

Here in Kyrgistan the virus is spreading at its fastest pace.
But the people who are supposed to only allow people with a mask at the entrance of various malls and shopping places are often wearing the mask below their nose. Sometimes fully pulled down to their chin.
And they often don't even check or stop people -most of whom of course remove their mask as soon as they're inside-.

The country as a whole doesn't seem to prioritize safety very much.

95 of the taxi drivers weren't wearing a seatbelt.
Even as a passenger in the back, I rarely manage to buckle up, either because the seatbelt had been tucked behind the seat, because they put cover that also covers the buckle compartment, or because the buckle was entirely removed (!).
Hatred against seatbelts never ran higher :).

A girl I saw a couple of times used to drive without a driving license saying it was "normal".
And when she crashed her car and the police showed up at her place, there were no real consequences because "it's normal here".

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Singapore could be transitioning out of the more authoritarian culture needed in the early days.
But, at this point, I will be making wild guesses as to exactly why the COVID measures are so strict.

Kyrgyzstan will be an interesting place to visit for me.
I have not been to that region of the world.

Masks are uncomfortable.
Now I'm starting to think if there's an alternative to masks.
I read that the main discomfort stems from a slight build-up of carbon dioxide.
And the body is sensitive to any slight changes in carbon dioxide percentages in inhaled air.

A girl I saw a couple of times used to drive without a driving license saying it was "normal".
And when she crashed her car and the police showed up at her place, there were no real consequences because "it's normal here".

In my head, I was imagining a "fast and furious" adventure that you had with this girl on the road.
Though, in reality, I realised that crashing a car is not fun outside of bumper cars.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Under Leadership 101, Lucio talks about relying less on coercive power.

I'm assuming here that COVID-19 measures are good for society in the long run so that we can focus on power dynamics discussion.

I feel that countries have been using a lot of coercive power to implement COVID-19 measures.
Such as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing measures.

I suppose that, in this case, governments are using coercive power for a long-term societal good at the expense of convenience and even the economy.

I'm not sure if it's possible to use buy-in rather than coercion for this long-term, societal good.
It could be a matter of culture.
The more community-based cultures would follow more readily but the more individualistic cultures like America seem to encounter more resistance to mask-wearing.

Maybe coercive power can be value-adding for goals that cause short-term inconvenience but long-term benefits for the society/team.
Although I would say it's best used for emergencies and situations where quick action is needed.
As we have seen in COVID-19 measures, coercive implementation has led to a lot of push-back and resistance.

A slower, buy-in approach may be better when one would like to transform certain aspects of the group.
It also carries less risk that followers would see the leader as "not representing" the group.

It's a grey area.

Also:

  1. As little coercion as possible refers to "great" leadership, with great defined as "good for the community" and "while leading a group of high-value followers". That doesn't mean that a less than great leadership can't go higher coercion and either survive, or do well -for the leaders-
  2. How much coercion leadership can get away with depends on followers' empowerment and availability of other options: government leaders tend to have more room for coercion because most people can't move around that easily and elections only comes every X years
Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks for the perspective!

I suppose in the societal context, the perfect leader-follower relationship can only occur when

  • the leader puts the interests of the wider society as first priority ahead of his own interests and any individual interests
  • each individual puts the societal interests ahead of his/her own interest
  • there is sufficient trust among the leader and individuals for the individuals to follow the leader's decisions
  • the leader and follower both derive their social identity partly from advancing the interests of the wider society

It is important that the individual feels empowered when placing societal interests above his own.
Both emotionally and resource-wise.
If not, it may feel like communism where individuals feel stifled.
Creativity and innovation suffer.

Then again, what's best for society is also a grey area.
What's important in society?
How to weigh the relative importance of social issues?

Leader-Follower Relationships in COVID-19

In the COVID-19 scenario, leaders and followers are far from ideal.
Many followers are not high-value.
They may not even look out for their own best interests.
So coercion may be needed for these groups of low-value people.

Then, there are people who care primarily for their self-interests and not much for societal interests or others' interests.

In some countries, I have seen leaders focus on their personal interests.
They hold elections during this period because they know followers would like stability and not have a change in leadership.
There is some lash back on this.

When leaders are seen to look out for their personal interests, followers would lose trust in the system and naturally look out for their own interests.
Because investing in the system would not necessarily be beneficial to the followers anymore.
Followers also stop building their sense of self around society.

As such, I do see why a lot of COVID-19 measures need to be implemented in a coercive manner.

In the first year of COVID-19, a leader with Winston Churchill's style of leadership could be effective.
A charismatic style of leadership would motivate people to act fast.

If we transition to the endemic phase, we need a transformational style of leadership.
Not very sure what kind of leadership suits best.

Retaining As Much Coercive Power As Possible - Machiavellian Strategy

How much coercion leadership can get away with depends on followers' empowerment and availability of other options: government leaders tend to have more room for coercion because most people can't move around that easily and elections only comes every X years

It seems that leaders can use a strategy of disempowering people so that they have more coercive power.
If leaders want to maximise personal interests rather than follow "great leadership", retaining as much coercive power as possible could be a Machiavellian strategy.

Then again, the best strategy is to have as many forms of power as possible while primarily getting things done via "great leadership".

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, plus there is another element of:

  • Narcissism
  • Power-craving
  • Opportunity for expanding powers

The more "emergency" a leader makes the situation seem, the more power and attention he gets.
It feeds the possible narcissistic side of a leader.

Cuomo for New York often gave me the feeling he was relishing the spotlight and the chance of becoming more popular than Trump.
An easy task, given Trump's leadership during Covid. But the bigger the thread, the easier the task was for Cuomo. So he had an incentive to overplay Covid to ride that wave upward.

POWER-CRAVING

The more coercive measures he implements, the more he can impose his will and feel powerful.

EXPANDING POWER

The more you can implement extreme measures -or suspend people's rights-, the more you expand your power.


Personally, I feel that's been the case at least in a few instances.
And it will keep being that way.
The pushback against overly-tight measures might be needed to restrain the narcissistic and power-craving side of some leaders.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I can really see that this is the case.

In the country where I am right now, the government has done so much to espouse social distancing, contact tracing and mask-wearing.

Then, they held an early election.
Huge numbers of people needed to gather at places to vote.

And the reason given was to take advantage of a relatively quiet period of this pandemic to hold the election.
In case things get worse down the line, and an election is not possible.

EXPANDING POWER

The more you can implement extreme measures -or suspend people's rights-, the more you expand your power.

I suppose the equivalent would be corporates disbanding worker unions.
And executives making sure that they control the informational flow in the company.

In the case of COVID-19 for my country, the government has imposed a limit on the size of gatherings.
I think it's 5 people.

But thanks to the digital world, people can somewhat overcome this limit.
I can see why governments find social media companies to be a threat to their power.

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