Bernardo M. Villegas
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Rebalancing Strategy
published: Mar 31, 2017



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Qualifications for the Executive Branch

           Starting with the President of the Philippines, the leaders who will be elected in 2016 to executive positions (governors and mayors) should have demonstrated in their past positions that they are capable of managing organizations.  We  are no longer in a crisis situation in which the overriding factor for electing a President is the moral quality of the person even if she or he has not demonstrated managerial ability.  We needed a Cory Aquino who had the moral principles and courage to restore the democratic institutions that were destroyed by her predecessor.   We needed her son to lead us in a moral crusade against corruption.  Both had limited managerial capability but we needed them because of the moral revolution that was primordial during their respective eras.  Both of them did not disappoint us in showing exemplary moral leadership.

          We should be more demanding, however, of our next set of leaders.  A business best seller written by a professor at the IESE Business School has summarized the qualities we should look for in people who head executive departments in our Government.  Domenec Mele authored Management Ethics (Placing Ethics at the Core of Good Management) in which he suggests the qualities that should complement good ethical behavior in a manager.  He points out that a competent manager should achieve an effective performance, which requires specific competencies.  Some are technique-oriented, others are goal-oriented, and a third group includes relations-oriented competencies.  The most important of all are moral competencies which are rooted in the moral character.  These last are indispensable but not sufficient conditions for being a President, Governor or Mayor.  Among 100 million Filipinos, we can find individuals who can combine all the four competencies.

          Management is a complex activity in which art, craft and science converge.  Art draws on intuition, creativity, acting with flexibility in specific situations, developing unique alternatives, novel ideas to solve an organization's problems.  It is the vision to foresee opportunities and threats, anticipating how the organization and its environment will be, and foreseeing the turbulent twists and turns of organizational life.  Craft can only be acquired by actual experience in managing an organization.  It requires time, action and reflection on success and errors in performing managerial functions.   It can also be developed by considering the best practices in management, learning from case studies, taking advice from experienced and expert managers.  Science provides valuable information for managers.  It includes correlations in empirical economic data along with psychological and sociological studies.  This is the technique part of managing.   Finally, a good manager sets strategic goals and ensures that those goals are both measurable and attainable.  Unfortunately, President Noynoy Aquino lacks a good number of these competencies.  Because of shortcomings in his management of his Cabinet, a large number of projects and programs, especially related to the Private Public Partnership (PPP) projects, have taken a long time to take off.  These delays have cost our economy some 2 to 3 percentage points in GDP growth and hundreds of thousands of jobs not generated.

          In choosing the next generation of leaders who will be in place in the second half of 2016, we must look for management competencies beyond the moral character of leaders.  We must insist, however, that moral competencies are conditions sine qua non for effective leadership.  As Dr. Mele wrote in his book, "Moral competencies in leadership are nothing other than virtues which provide exemplarity and promote the trust and willingness of people to follow their leader.  There are two stable dispositions of character which can be found at the core of the other virtues:  namely willingness to serve and practical wisdom.  With these as foundation, a number of virtues are real pillars of leadership."  Among these virtues are humility, care and intelligent love for other, justice and equity, honesty and truthfulness, fortitude, order, willingness to learn, temperance, sobriety, sexual self-control, and integrity or a harmonious virtuous life.  This list may appear utopian and impossible to find in one person.  We must, however, alert those aspiring for elected positions in the Executive branch that more enlightened voters are increasingly demanding higher standards in the competencies of the candidates.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.