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Adjusting to presidential styles and personalities

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR - William M. Esposo () - October 24, 2010 - 12:00am

It’s an accepted fact of life in big organizations that the people underneath the CEO must adjust to the style and personality of their top honcho. This applies to both the people in the management and supervisory positions as well as those of the rank and file.

There are top dogs, as they’re sometimes called, who are micro managers and must be updated with every paper clip that the company buys. There those who believe in the business philosophy that the sign of a good organization is when it functions well even when the top bosses are not around. Some CEOs excel by personally fixing every kink in every area of the company’s operation. Others excel by simply providing a magnificent roadmap that is shared by all and inspires everybody to perform their best.

Among organizations, the government bureaucracy easily adjusts to the style and the personality of their bosses. That is because they have been conditioned to the reality of change. Nowhere is the saying that “the only constant in life is change” more applicable than in the government bureaucracy. Here we change presidents every six years and during the term of a president, a department could have anywhere from two to three Secretaries alternately heading it.

When President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) assumed the 2010 presidency, he immediately established the era of the DAANG MATUWID (the straight path) of zero tolerance for corruption. He also set the example of leadership by example when he ordered the halt to the use of sirens when government officials are on the road and maintained a modest presidential lifestyle.

It was not surprising that when a Metro Traffic Enforcer was offered a bribe – it was rejected and the Traffic Enforcer told the driver that they are now in a new era. This showed that the government man on the street, far removed from Malacanang Palace, was well aware of the new order and had already adjusted to it.

It’s not as easy though for the governed to adjust to the style and personality of the country’s new Chief Executive – even those who had voted for him. At times, the problem is rooted to the misconceptions and false as well as unrealistic expectations that are being peddled by the political Opposition. It is a common practice for the Opposition to try to derail a new President by setting unrealistic standards which are almost impossible to meet. When people accept these unrealistic standards, that makes the new Chief Executive appear to start faltering and subsequently the presidential popularity and approval ratings start to drop.

A good case in point is the August 23 Manila Hostage Crisis and its bungled rescue attempt which resulted in the deaths of eight Chinese nationals from Hong Kong and Canada. In what is clearly a police foul up, the Opposition lost no time in pillorying P-Noy for the embarrassing incident despite the fact that P-Noy did well not to be physically present at the site where he could have unwittingly emboldened the hostage taker and upped the ante.

P-Noy did his job as President and was on top of the situation all the way. However, if you listen to the Opposition and the media reporters and commentators who bought the Opposition line – you would think that P-Noy is expected to act like Rambo instead of a Chief Executive. We elect presidents not because they are capable of acting like Rambo but some Filipinos were willing to be suckered into subscribing to the Opposition line.

Compared to the 1972 Munich Olympics Hostage Crisis, the Manila Hostage Crisis was a picnic. You ought to read accounts of the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympic Hostage Crisis and check if the fallout against the West German government was anywhere as severe as the one here where some people expected the President to play the role of Rambo. One would expect that the political fallout would have been worse in West Germany considering the German reputation for efficiency.

Filipinos should realize that their new president is not a grandstander. P-Noy believes that the effective way to build an efficient organization is to allow it to function with minimal top level interference. That was excellently displayed during the handling of the crisis management for Typhoon Juan. The government worked like a well oiled machine and was on top of people’s needs every step of the way. Typically P-Noy, he did not even bother to attend the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council) meeting last Monday. He was confident that everything that needs to be done is being done.

P-Noy has demonstrated that he is not one who is easily fazed, bamboozled or coerced. His unflinching stand on the RH Bill and the Palace Review of the IIRC Report demonstrated a presidential character that can withstand extreme pressure. He would not succumb – like Pontius Pilate – to the Jerusalem mob when he was morally convinced that his subordinates did nothing wrong and should not be penalized.

Alas, many of his bosses lack the political maturity to realize that the grandstanding leaders are usually the ones who are weak, deficient and are merely covering up serious shortcomings and big sins.

The “this nation can be great again” grandstanding of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos concealed the erosion of the values of our society which affects us to this day. That “Asiong Salonga” grandstanding of Joseph Estrada was the façade of a presidency that was engaged in many dubious activities. The “economy is booming” grandstanding of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sharply contrasted to the hunger and poverty index during her tenure.

If we’re a straight thinking nation, we should reject the grandstanding political leaders and embrace the few strong silent types who are self assured, committed to their objectives, faithful to their mandate and boldly damning the torpedoes fired at them by their political adversaries.

That’s if we prefer good hard workers to corrosive grandstanders. That’s if we prefer good governance to hollow braggadocio.

*      *      *

Chair Wrecker email and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

ASIONG SALONGA BILL AND THE PALACE REVIEW CHAIR WRECKER CHIEF EXECUTIVE DICTATOR FERDINAND MARCOS MANILA HOSTAGE CRISIS NOY P-NOY RAMBO
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