VIDEO: Miriam’s water pick-up lines and leadership tips

VIDEO: Miriam’s water pick-up lines and leadership tips
‘Many Filipinos are happy with okay na or puwede na ’yan…. Notwithstanding our history and economic condition, can we change our culture? Yes.’

MANILA, Philippines – Count on Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to be able to connect her pick-up lines with the work of the audience she is addressing. 

In her speech before employees of Maynilad Water Services on Wednesday, March 25, Santiago cracked her classic jokes, this time using water as the theme.

More than the jokes, however, she had a wealth of tips on self-leadership and excellence to share. Below is the full text of her speech at Maynilad’s leadership forum at the UP Toyota GT Center in Quezon City.

Watch video of her pick-up lines here: 

Watch video of her full speech here: 

Tanungin ninyo ang boyfriend o girlfriend ninyo:
Ano ang pinagkaiba mo sa tubig?
Ang tubig iniigib;
Ikaw, iniibig.

Boy: Tubig ka ba? Kasi kung hindi mo ako crush, wala kang taste.
Girl: Eh ikaw, tubig ka ba?
Boy: Bakit?
Girl: Kasi I can’t wait for you to evaporate.

Tinanong ang mga nanay kung ano ang pinapainom nila sa mga anak nila.
Nanay 1: Bonakid, para sa batang may laban.
Nanay 2: Emperador, para sa totoong tagumpay.
Nanay 3: Tubig ng Maynilad, dahil dumadaloy ang ginhawa.

Ano ang sabi ng dagat sa isa pang dagat?
Wala, nag-wave lang siya.

Definition of self-leadership

The simple definition of self-leadership is: “The process by which you influence yourself to achieve your objectives.” In the 2012 book Self Leadership by Bryant and Kazan, this term is defined as: “Having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going, coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions, and behaviour on the way to getting there.”

Thus, I will summarize the meaning of self-leadership as the modern equivalent of the famous command by Socrates: “Know thyself.”

If you want to examine yourself about self-leadership, the authorities require two skills. According to Bryant and Kazan, these are:

  • The first skill is to stop and step back from the things that trigger us to react; because when we react, we are being controlled by the trigger.
  • The second skill is to consider our intention, which involves our values and what we are trying to achieve, in order that we can live a life of choice.

Self-leadership, in other words, is coaching yourself.  Ask yourself the following questions formulated by the authorities:

  • What is it you want to achieve?
  • What actions do you need to take to achieve this?
  • What are the results of your actions?
  • Is this feedback accurate?
  • Can I filter the feedback?

Self-leadership questionnaire

The 2002 International Journal of Leadership Studies published a shortened version of the Self Leadership Questionnaire, as follows:

  1. Self-goal setting: I establish specific goals for my own performance.
  2. Self-observation: I make a point to keep track of how well I’m doing at work.
  3. Self-goal setting: I work toward specific goals I have set for myself.
  4. Visualizing successful performance: I visualize myself successfully performing a task before I do it.
  5. Visualizing performance: Sometimes I picture in my mind a successful performance before I actually do a task.
  6. Self-reward: When I have successfully completed a task, I often reward myself with something I like.
  7. Evaluating beliefs and assumptions: Sometimes I talk to myself (out loud or in my head) to work through difficult situations.
  8. Self-talk: I try to mentally evaluate the accuracy of my own beliefs about situations I am having problems with.
  9. Evaluating beliefs and assumptions:  I think about my own beliefs and assumptions whenever I encounter a difficult situation.

Improving performance by employee engagement

The 2010 International Journal of Business and Management defines employee engagement as: “The employee’s willingness and ability to help your company succeed, by providing discretionary effort on a sustainable basis.”

What we want to do is to enhance employee engagement by means of self-leadership. Therefore, managers should observe the following procedure:

  1. Start it on day one.
  2. Start it from the top.
  3. Enhance employee engagement through two-way communication.
  4. Give satisfactory opportunities for development and advancement.
  5. Ensure that employees have everything they need to do their jobs.
  6. Give employees appropriate training.
  7. Have strong feedback system.
  8. Incentives.

The concept of excellence

Self-leadership should lead to excellence. “Excellent” means being superior or being first class. You would think that everyone would want to become excellent.  But this is not so. Many Filipinos are happy with “okay na” or “puwede na yan.”  Sociologists might say that our colonization made us feel inferior as a culture. Economists might say that our lack of pride as a people is connected to our poverty and slow economic growth. Psychologists might say that unlike parents in other cultures, Filipino parents do not really push their children to achieve. Managers may say that the pressure from peers not to excel make employees content to perform like the rest.  Perhaps, it is because of all these reasons that many of our organizations have a culture of mediocrity. 

Yet we know that with globalization and ASEAN 2015, our organizations will be forced to compete with organizations from other countries who are hungrier, who have a stronger drive to achieve, and who have a stronger will to excel. If we do not step up, what will happen to us? We will be bought out by larger organizations and become slaves in a different form of colonization – an economic colonization that means we will forever become employees and subordinates of other nations. 

Notwithstanding our history and economic condition, can we change our culture?  Yes, if we concentrate on certain self-leadership practices. First, we must communicate. If we expect excellence, then we need to clearly articulate this when we hire people, in our company values, in our policies, in our goals. At the same time, people need to be evaluated and rewarded for excellence. We should not reward a person with a bonus because he did his job; instead, we should reward people who really excel. At the same time, we need to align our systems and structures to excellence. We should stop hiring people just because we like them.  We should also not be afraid of hiring people who are better than us, because if we lead them well, they will make us and our organization better.  

We need to promote people not just based on seniority, but based on excellence.  Hence, we need training for values. We need to continually train people to become excellent, because the world is fast-changing and an excellent worker today can become obsolete tomorrow. We need to engage and empower our people in the pursuit of excellence, because our leaders, no matter how bright they are, do not have a monopoly of good or new ideas.  

Finally, we must practice role modeling. In a country with high power distance, we have a high respect for leaders. Sadly, maybe too high, that we wait to see how our leaders behave before we follow suit.  However, this is both an opportunity and a challenge for us leaders – to walk our talk and show people how to be excellent. 

Then again, this requires us to practice self-leadership. If we expect our subordinates and peers to be excellent, it should be something that we expect from and demonstrate ourselves, even when we are tired, or discouraged, or afraid, or when no one is egging us, because the person who continually seeks to be excellent every single moment is the person who has self-leadership. Look at Mahatma Gandhi – he did not have formal power, he did not have a loud voice, he was frail looking and did not have an imposing physique. He simply was the change he wished to see and soon others took notice and began following him. 

So I leave you today with these two challenges – practice self-leadership and be excellent. Maynilad needs that of you and more importantly, because the country needs that of Maynilad.  As the poet wrote:

God Moves in Mysterious Ways
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in an unfathomable mines,
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will. 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.