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On leadership (Second of two parts)

By: Senator Manny Villar

THEODORE Roosevelt has an interesting take on leadership: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Leadership does not refer to individuals with god-like qualities or someone who is above everyone else. Leadership is about attaining a vision, a noble goal with a group of people committed to the same outcome.

For this reason, it is important to choose the right people for the job. This, by the way, is another important quality of a good leader: the ability to assess and pick the right person for the right job.

When my business started to expand, I needed more people to help me run things efficiently. I personally handpicked many of them. Today, I am proud to say that most of my staff have been with me for decades proving their loyalty and the fact that they were the right men and women for the job.

Even when I ran for the then congressional district of Las Piñas-Muntinlupa, I asked my Camella Homes staff to help in the campaign. They ran the campaign as efficiently as they managed the many aspect of Camella Homes. They knew how to sell a product so they knew how to sell a political idea or platform. They knew how to organize and deal with people. In both cases, the outcomes were successful.

The important thing is that you have to trust your people. You need to trust them enough that you can delegate tasks and decision-making to them. Some people find it difficult to delegate because they fear the thought of losing control or ceding authority. But delegation is important because you alone cannot do everything. It is also important to empower your people ensuring that the management of your company or organization is sustainable.

As a leader, you need to give your staff members as much leeway as possible to make decisions on their own. It could be as simple as presenting them with a problem and asking them to come back with alternatives or as significant as allowing them to make certain decisions. This way to improve the efficiency of your organization and you make the decision-making process more inclusive and effective.

It is not true that good leaders are afraid to hire people more intelligent than them; that they want only themselves to shine. That is a sign of an insecure leader. Good, brilliant leaders recognize and reward great men and women in the organization. Ego is not a welcome commodity in leadership positions.

Consider my stint as Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. These are leadership positions but in terms of relationship with the members of the House and the Senators, the Speaker and the Senate President are not higher than the other members. We were all elected by the people. No one is “higher” than anyone else. If at all, it is a relationship that can be described as primus inter pares – first among equals.

This means that to be Speaker of the House you need to manage the 200 plus members of the House who have their own mandate from the people and who have different agendas, characters, and attitudes. It is a challenge to get a consensus on issues. But I was lucky to have a great batch of legislators during that Congress, which eventually became an independent and a productive Congress that impeached a President.

Are good leaders born or can it be taught?

This is a more difficult question. I think it’s a little bit of both. Leadership can definitely be taught. People can learn the theories, skills and develop these through experience. But I also think that some people were born leaders.

That is not to say that they can lead from the time of birth. This simply means that there are people with innate qualities that improve over time. We know a lot of businessmen with zero training on leadership or management take their companies to stratospheric heights of success.

The most important thing is for you to believe that you are a leader and with a lot of hard work and persistence you can set out to be a best leader you can be. Never settle for mediocrity. Always aim high. If you are able to translate your own commitment to excellence into a culture of excellence in your organization, then you know you have succeeded.