With the election of Donald Trump as the new president of the United States and with our very own President Rodrigo Duterte, we worry about their styles of leadership which are not popular and traditional, to say the least, and seem analogous. Both ran on a platform of change.
We need to go back to some time-tested and effective leadership roles or characteristics. What leadership qualities are effective in facilitating change?
Let’s turn to authors and management gurus Norm Smallwood and Dave Ulrich and their five rules of leadership in their essay in The AMA Handbook of Leadership.
1. “Shape the future. This rule is embodied in the strategist dimension of the leader. Strategists answer the question, ‘Where are we going?’ and they make sure that those around them understand the direction as well.
They figure out where the organization needs to go to succeed; they test these ideas pragmatically against current resources (money, people, organizational capabilities); and they work with others to figure out how to get from the present to the desired future.”
Almost five months into his term, I have not seen a concrete direction toward where Mr. Duterte wants to bring our country. He focuses on short-term wins (if they are winnable, e.g. war on drugs). His rhetoric does not match the actions of his government. He focuses on vengeance for real or perceived wrongs done to him personally (Sen. Leila de Lima’s bold move to investigate the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad and the US Embassy’s denial of his visa application long time ago.) There are many other examples we are familiar with by now.
The only solid plan (still a plan!) is the socioeconomic program of the Department of Finance.
2. “Make things happen. Turn what you know into what you do. The executor dimension of the leader focuses on the question, ‘How will we make sure we get to where we are going?’ Executors translate strategy into action and put the systems in place for others to do the same. Executors understand how to make change happen, assign accountability, know which key decisions to take and which to delegate, and make sure that teams work well together. They keep promises to multiple stakeholders.”
This Duterte team seems to lack the discipline needed to get things done and the technical expertise to get the right things done right. What concrete achievements do they have to prove that the past four-and-a-half months have been productive and have produced specific results? The DPWH is very fond of posting pictures of finished projects which are in truth the products of the PNoy administration on which they are putting the finishing touches only now. The Department of Transportation, for example, seems to be paralyzed and could only work if given an “emergency power.” Traffic is getting worse and nothing long-term is being done. Oh yes, with the number-coding window lifted, motorists now spend a couple of minutes less in traffic. I still see a lot of traffic enforcers congregating in corners (waiting for their prey?) while the traffic stands still.
3. “Engage today’s talent. Leaders who optimize talent answer the question, ‘Who goes with us on our business journey?’ Talent managers know how to identify, build, and engage talent to get results now. They identify what skills are required, draw talent to their organizations, engage these people, communicate extensively, and ensure that employees turn in their best efforts. Talent managers generate intense personal, professional, and organizational loyalty.”
My stockbroker-friend just told me on the phone that it is now easier to transact business at the Bureau of Customs because the old fogeys are back and so are their corrupt ways. All you need to do is to fork out the asking price and your cargo is out in a jiffy. Heard of that Cabinet secretary who asks favors from mall stores and concert organizers? She might have learned the trick from her brothers.
The new people in government are definitely loyal to Presdent Duterte (and apologize for his slips of the tongue and changes of mind), but are they loyal to the Filipino people and our country enough to do their job right?
4. “Build the next generation. Leaders who are human capital developers answer the question, ‘Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?’ Talent managers ensure shorter-tem results through people, while human capital developers ensure that the organization has the longer-term competencies required for future strategic success; they ensure that the organization will outlive any single individual. Just as good parents invest in helping their children succeed, human capital developers help future leaders be successful.”
Many observe that those in government now were recycled from previous administrations, mostly from the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. Same old, same old. Can old dogs still learn new tricks? Do we have enough young people in government, whom we could develop into our future leaders?
5. “Invest in yourself. At the heart of the Leadership Code—literally and figuratively—is personal proficiency. Effective leaders cannot be reduced to what they know and what they do. Who they are as human beings has everything to do with how much they can accomplish with and through other people.”
By now we already have a fair assessment of the kind of person President Duterte is—who he is as a person is who he is as our leader. This seems scary. And so Americans are also afraid of what’s going to happen to their country in the next four years given the kind of person Donald Trump is. Do presidents think that because they are already president, they need not learn anymore? Einstein once said, “when you stop learning, you start dying” and “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal not to people or objects.”