Developing a Filipino Brand of Leadership

MANY Filipinos are trained in Western theories of management and leadership.  But are these theories applicable within the context of Filipino culture? What is the role of culture in effective leadership?

Culture has an impact on effective leadership based on research literature. There are considerable differences in how leadership is perceived across cultures according to the largest study on this area, The Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Research Program (GLOBE). The study was conducted from 1993 to 1999 and covered 17,300 middle managers 951 organizations in the food processing, financial services, and telecommunications services industries from 62 different countries.

This topic was explored recently in a conference on “The Role of Culture in Effective Leadership,” jointly hosted by the Ateneo de Manila University and Embassy of the French Republic to the Philippines.

A management approach adapted to the local norms of living and working together must be applied, according to Jean-Pierre Segal, PhD director at the Universite Paris Dauphine in Paris.

However, Filipino leaders have to operate within two conflicting cultures—an underlying native Filipino culture and an overriding Western culture, former Ateneo de Manila president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. stated. He believes that this leads to “dysfunctional behavior and paralysis in execution” among Filipino leaders.

Another challenge is to “create a sense of togetherness” and national identity considering the diverse local cultures in the Philippines, as pointed out by Dr. Sophie Boisseau du Rocher, consultant to the Analysis and Forecasting Center of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other issues raised during the conference were:

  • Public leadership should contribute to the building of national identity by connecting with the reality.
  • Conflict resolution is possible with an awareness and understanding of the culture and context of the conflict.
  • Local leaders need to be trained to thrive in a global environment.
  • Filipino leaders have various approaches to formulation of organizational vision and execution. However, execution may be hindered by cultural values.
  • Language influences the understanding of leadership across cultures.
  • Many Filipino leaders are disconnected from the context and reality of their leadership situations.
  • Leadership development must take into consideration the need for a culturally aligned leadership theory.
  • Structures must be fixed to enable embedding of culture.

In his closing remarks, Nebres encouraged Filipinos to challenge the existing concepts of leadership. He said that many Western scenarios on leadership don’t apply in the Philippines. He cautioned that the danger in applying Western leadership theories is that when it doesn’t work, the people may be blamed for the leadership failure. “There are many ways of leadership and we must discover our own ways of leadership,” Nebres emphasized. “Part of our journey as a nation is to find out what makes for effective leadership in our culture and context.”

Other resource persons during the conference were postmaster general Josefina M. dela Cruz, JG Summit Holdings Inc. president and chief operating officer Lance Y. Gokongwei and president for DataOne Asia Philippines, Inc. Cyril Rocke.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 27, 2013.

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Emotions Color How We Think, Feel And Behave At Work

EVER since Daniel Goleman equated marshmallows an emotional intelligence in the public mind with his book, “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995, a slew of books on the topic have written by psychologists turned writers turned psychologists.

One of these post-Goleman authors in Hendrie Weisinger who has come out with the latest book on this hot topic, “Emotional Intelligence at Work.”

While Goleman is primarily a journalist with an extensive knowledge of the behavioral sciences, Weisinger is foremost a psychologist with a wide practice in clinical, counseling, and organizational psychology who is trying his hand at book writing.

While Goleman wrote about the value of emotional intelligence in all areas of our lives, Weisinger writes about the value of emotional intelligence in the workplace,

Goleman succeeded in writing a highly credible book that gripped the reader’s attention from page to page.

Does Weisinger succeed in writing a highly interesting book that reflects his credibility as a practicing psychologist? His book is certainly credible. However, it may be better appreciated by those who have been sufficiently intrigued with the concept of emotional intelligence to want to learn more. Although Weisinger’s book lacks the sensational true-to-life stories that characterized Goleman’s book and glued readers to his pages, it makes up for this deficiency (if it may be called such) with ordinary but real at work situations that face ordinary and real people (like us) in the work place.

While the book is written with a rather clinical air rather than with a journalistic flourish that is vintage Goleman, it does give a sense of assurance that the book recognizes our real problems and can actually help us solve them.

In the workplace

Going back to the basics, what is emotional intelligence and why is this impotant at work? The answer, as provided by Weisinger, has to do with emotions and its role in the workplace.

In the corporate world, people are expected to be professional. Oftentimes, being professional means we have to be objective, detailed and unemotional. However, it is a fact of work life that emotions color how we think, feel and behave at work.

If emotions in an organization are positive, you have a high energy organization; if negative, you have an intrigue-laden or conflict-ridden organization. Weisinger states that emotions play an important role in the workplace. He writes: “From anger to elation, frustration to contentment, you confront emotions your and others’ on a daily basis at the office.” Given this, how can we deal with emotions in the workplace? Weisinger advises us “to use your emotions intelligently, which is just what we mean by emotional intelligence: you intentionally make your emotions work for you by using them to guide your behavior and thinking in ways that enhance your results.”

Weisinger further says that “the good news is that emotional intelligence can be nurtured developed and augmented; it isn’t a trait that you have or don’t have.”

The better news is that Weisinger shows us how: In this book, he illustrates how we can increase out emotional intelligence by learning and using skills such as high self-awareness, managing our emotions and self-motivation.

High self-awareness

Weisinger shows how a high self-awareness is useful in workplace. He points out that when you get angry at your boss, a heightened self-awareness will enable you to be aware of what triggered it and to know how to diminish and use it appropriately. When you feel dejected, it will enable you to seek how you allow a negative event to affect your work negatively.

Weisinger advises that in order to increase self awareness, you should examine how you make judgments, tune in to your senses, get in touch with your feelings, know your intentions and pay attention to your actions.

Weisinger also shows how we can protect ourselves from “automatic thoughts” (jumping to conclusions) that we can better manage our emotions in the workplace.

Self-motivation, on the other hand, according to Weisinger is “the key to starting a task and staying with it.” While traditional management theory emphasizes the role of the leader in motivating his people, Weisinger says that the individual himself is “the most powerful source of motivation” (the other sources being supportive friends and colleagues, a mentor, and the environment). This is why positive thinking and self affirmation are vital to one’s motivation.

Weisinger writes: “Positive thoughts are a tonic to your motivation; negative thoughts are a toxin.”

Personal relations

Weisinger dwells at length on how we can use emotional intelligence in our relations with other people. Weisinger says “the key to making these relationships and interactions successful so that they benefit all concerned not the least, you is emotional intelligence.”

Weisinger teaches us how to use emotional intelligence in relating with others by developing effective communication skills and interpersonal expertise and by helping others help themselves. The last skill, he notes, is one of the most difficult but rewarding practices of emotional intelligence.


Goleman exhorted us to “manage with heart, in the workplace Weisinger enjoins us, to build an emotionally intelligent organization.” He believes that such an organization is one in which the employees have a high level of emotional intelligence.

He describes an emotionally intelligent organization as workplace where all employees are able to increase their self awareness, manage their emotions, motivate themselves, communicate effectively, relate well with others, and help each other. In essence, they are able to use their emotional intelligence.

In this uncertain world, an emotional intelligent work force may just provide an organization the foundation for its survival and growth On the other hand, we can easily imagine the damage that misused emotions can cause in the workplace. We all know what anguish results from uncontrolled anger at work; what sorrow ensures from intrigues among employees; and what grief comes from bias and prejudice. The strength of the organization to succeed, along with its members, is thus diminished.

It starts with you

Weisinger pushes the responsibility of creating the emotional intelligent organization back to us. In his closing page, he writes “emotional intelligencet in your organization starts with you.”

With this book and the will, we can change. So next time you feel an urge to throw a book at your boss, your colleague or your subordinate, pick up and read Weisinger’s book instead. It may save you a lot of heartaches and your job and organization as well.

Emotional Intelligence At Work
By Hendrie Weisinger, Jossey Bass Publisher,
San Francisco, USA 1998, 219 pages

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer February 9, 1998.

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CHANGE your lifestyle, change your life. This is a prescription I would like to give to all bone-tired working moms who have a nagging feeling that perhaps somewhere out there is “the good life.”

You see, “working” and “mom” are two words that are highly combustible when mixed together. The secret to keeping these volatile elements stable is to be able to determine how much of each element should be poured into the flask of life to produce a wonderful elixir for the good life. Otherwise, working moms get burnout.

Now, how do you know you are burning out? Here is a Burn Out Quiz from Dr. Tony Alessandra, author of the Online Platinum Rule Behavioral Assessment as taken from his free email newsletter, “Dr. T’s Timely Tips.” Give yourself the following points as you take the quiz: 10 points if you strongly agree with the statement; 7 points, agree; 3 points, disagree; and 0 points, strongly disagree.

1. I always seem to feel fatigued throughout the day.

2. I find myself talking less and less in business and social meetings.

3. My memory seems to be deteriorating—I’m forgetting more and more.

4. Even after a good night’s sleep, I still feel tired.

5. I find it very difficult to really relax-my mind always seems to be in full gear thinking about work.

6. At the end of each day, I feel that I’m further behind than when I started the day.

7. I seem to be more irritable and cranky lately. I am not as patient with others. I have a short fuse and blow up easily.

8. I am spending less and less time on physical activities and hobbies—or with my family and friends.

9. I seldom seem to be pleased with what I’ve already accomplished. I feel that I should be accomplishing more.

10. I either operate at full speed ahead or at dead asleep—no middle ground.

Then, score yourself as follows: 0-15 points – You either don’t do anything or you’ve really got your act together; 16-50 points – You’re doing well. At this level, you’re highly unlikely to suffer from burnout; 51-80 points – You’re on thin ice and just about ready to fall in. You’d better change your lifestyle quickly because burnout is knocking down your door; 86-100 points – I’m glad I don’t work for you or with you. You are a walking time bomb. If you do not make immediate adjustments in your behavior you may be burned out by the time you finish reading this article.

For those who scored 50 points and more, a lifestyle change is in the offing. And I don’t mean just taking a few hours off every day. Four years ago, I was entrenched in a lifestyle I had created for more than 20 years—ten hours at work, four hours on the road, barely two hours with my husband and daughters, every weekday of my life. It was no way to create loving relationships and a good life for my loved ones and myself. That lifestyle had to go. I quit cold turkey one fine day in May and never once regretted the decision since then. I changed my lifestyle, I changed my life.

Somewhere out there is “the good life” waiting for you. Don’t keep it waiting for long for life is too short to be lived without love.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom August 2004.

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