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The 3 leadership traits I want from a PH president

Jonathan Yabut

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The 3 leadership traits I want from a PH president
In the spirit of voting for our upcoming president, vice president, and other future leaders this May 9, here are 3 leadership qualities I’ve learned in the corporate world that I consider critical when voting for #TheLeaderIWant.

When I talk about leadership in my corporate talks or career articles on Rappler, I usually mean the qualities of CEOs and executives that allow them to propel a business from zero to hero.

In these cases, I emphasize the value of engaging people, setting a vision, and providing feedback. The corporate world is so mature and efficient in what it does that it can afford to sack incompetent leaders in a heartbeat and restore order just in time.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for our government which is ages away when it comes to the culture of leadership. The great thing however is that this election has trained us to demand better and for good, especially on social media.

In the spirit of voting for our upcoming president, vice president, and other future leaders this May 9, here are 3 leadership qualities I’ve learned in the corporate world that I consider critical when voting for #TheLeaderIWant. Here’s to also hoping that the leader who emerges victor possesses these.

A leader must be able to inspire his people

Leaders are also cheerleaders. Their goal is to inspire, motivate, and push you to be at the top of your game. They not only support you with physical tools to get things done (I love bosses who make sure I get my phone and laptop during my first day at work!), they also motivate you with emotional support whenever your heart gets shot down. Whenever you’re challenged, you know you can ask for help. (READ: 4 important questions to ask your boss this year

Your boss should know how to inspire you, or remind you of the very inspirations that keep you going – your family, your personal ambitions, your dreams. You want to keep on delivering during those tempting moments of quitting because you believe in what your boss stands for

You know that your interest is in good hands because it is in his hands. I remember my former boss, Didith, who once told me when I was challenged as a manager in the pharmaceutical industry. “This is not just about us making money, Jon. It’s also about the patients we can potentially save. Whenever I also want to quit, I always remember the very reason why this is worth fighting for.”

That was an important moment for me. We all need bosses like Didith. We need leaders who will effortlessly let us whisper to ourselves: “I believe in you” or “Wow, I want to become like you.”

We also need government leaders who can inspire. I want a president who can inspire us with so much integrity that every employee in BIR or LTO will think twice before stealing money not because he’s scared of getting locked behind the bars, but simply because he feels ashamed for betraying our motherland.

The president, vice-president, and senators will not and cannot do everything on their own. But if a leader can inspire, then he can also effectively delegate. An inspiring leader will not need to command or remind citizens to act responsibly. His class of inspired people, by their volition, will act responsibly on their own while he sleeps.

When we have an inspiring leader, we filter our actions because we believe it’s for the best: we drive responsibly, we condemn bribes, we even volunteer to clean the streets. We start thinking that we can contribute even in our smallest ways because we’re inspired. 

A leader must have the emotional maturity to deal with others

Leaders cannot perform in silos. They need allies to survive in a globalized world, regardless of how powerful they are. Steve Jobs had to enable Mac computers to run with Windows Office because the rest of the world uses it. Even if Apple wanted an empire of its own, it still needed to build bridges with Microsoft.

Similarly, your president will not only work within the borders of the country. He is required to perform international duties too, and this means that the face of the president is the face of the country. Together with his cabinet members or senators, he will shake hands, attend dinners, and speak in hundreds of international conferences.

At the heart of these undertakings, the president’s ability to connect and communicate with other leaders (who also have different egos and personalities) will be tested to its limits. This is why the mastery of communication is highly touted by psychologists as one of the most important skills a leader needs to succeed. But we know this already well: ideas and intentions are useless if you have poor social skills, or a foul mouth, to execute them.    

Ask yourself – what kind of diplomatic skills does your candidate have that can help in attracting more foreign investors? How will he engage leaders in the Middle East or Asia in requesting for more welfare protection of over 1 million OFWs abroad? We live at a time when our beloved country is pressured with many international concerns: a geographical tension with China, a military partnership with the USA, and a pending economic integration with ASEAN among other things.

Ask yourself, close your eyes, and visualize your candidate: how much does he know about international relations? How tactful is his heart and tongue during those diplomatic dinners? How deep is his networking ability to create allies with neighboring countries, and restore them when they’re damaged?

Leaders will never burn bridges because they know that many of us often cross the same paths and more importantly because “all roads lead to Rome”. 

A leader must have the “strong will” to get things done

Of course, bosses aren’t just there to please everybody. There will be moments when he also needs to show some fangs and use them to take control of bad situations. Each boss has his style and many fall under extremes. Some give you too many second chances while some fire you on the spot. (READ: ‘I hate my boss!’: 5 tips to deal)

It is your duty and responsibility as a voter to probe your candidate’s heart: does he love pleasing people too much or can he also make unpopular decisions that apparently work when given the chance? Will he take things personally or will he rather defend the greater good? Does he forgive easily out of fear of losing harmony? And is he taken for granted by his people because they think they won’t get caught?  

At work, great leaders are those who can skillfully draw the line between professionalism and relationships. (READ: At work, it’s okay to say no to your boss)

We love a thoughtful boss who treats us to lunch during a rough day at work but knows when to distance himself when people get too close for comfort. I love managers who easily make friends with everyone in the room, but don’t hesitate to hold their friends accountable when they don’t show up for work.  

I support a candidate who unconditionally defends what is right, even if it may not please everyone (and besides, unless you are pizza, you can’t please everyone in this world!).

But I also loathe those who are too passionate to say that all ends can justify their means. At the end of the day, the ability to balance virtues is an art and skill that great leaders possess.

Who you are is what you do this May 9

We have gone such a long way, Philippines. Gone are the days when candidates just hire dancers or throw candies onstage to win public office. While I feel exhausted and stressed to see angry political rants on Facebook these past few weeks, I am happy also to realize that we have now graduated to become more critical and demanding of our leaders’ promises.

Finally, we learned how to tell them what we really want. This makes me smile and my dear sociologist friend, Nicole Curato, couldn’t have said it any better: “We deserve good leaders so let’s keep on interrupting. Let’s keep on giving them a hard time.”

May you all be enlightened to vote for The Right One this coming elections! – Rappler.com

Disclosure: Jonathan has expressed that he will be supporting Leni Robredo for vice president. He has not named any preference for a presidential candidate.

Jonathan Yabut is the proud Filipino winner of the hit Asian reality TV show, The Apprentice Asia and is currently based in Kuala Lumpur as the managing director of his own marketing consultancy firm, The JY Ventures & Consultancy. Jonathan is Asia’s leading motivational speaker on topics involving leadership, development of Gen Y workers, and career management for Fortune 500 companies. He is also the author of Southeast Asia’s 2015 best-selling motivational book, From Grit to Great.Visit his official Facebook Fanpage here.


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