OPINION: Of Wanting to be and Being a Leader

Edmund Tayao

Posted at Nov 07 2019 12:52 AM

And they’re off. You can very well read their actions and calculate what they are calculating. Still pretty early, and they know that; for sure they have learned a lot from the many who aspired and failed before, all because of a very well-publicized early start. 

These would be leaders must have thought that it is an advantage to get it on and prepare early, that’s true, but only if one is very sure he has nothing to hide. Or if there is anything that he would likely be made to answer for, he has to have an acceptable excuse. In fact, it might even be a way to show what kind of leader he could be, showing vulnerability at one time and demonstrating decisiveness, resilience, even magnanimity and or humility. Not all attacks or propaganda is negative; in fact it could be made to be a plus to a candidate.

Preparedness is not being able to anticipate everything; there is no such thing. Preparedness is knowing yourself truly well (Never assume you already know yourself if you're running for public office. No one knows oneself fully well unless you really are that experienced and have come to have a taste of many challenges, even fixes), or in the case of the one handling a candidate, make sure you know your candidate very well. Only then can one possibly respond to anything that will be thrown and only then one can figure out how best to engage the public. You can very well have a pretty good understanding of the public and the many issues the country face. Engaging is going to be effective however only if you are able to fit the candidate to the context, to a particular circumstance.

Whatever it is, it should be a conscious effort to manage the public and the public’s reaction from the very start. You can do all the tricks of the trade, leading and misleading the public, after all, all the tools useful in that regard have now become widely available, thanks to technology and a public that has become attached and detached at the same time, but a really damaging information about you is something that cannot remain hidden for long. There is information that in fact should not be damaging but is twisted for the purpose of doing damage. The difference is in how it is handled, which as already explained depend significantly on the candidate him/herself. The bottom line is, the more one tries to hide something, the more it is difficult to handle.

There’s no standard or model framework for all wannabe presidents or senators. Disabuse yourself that because it happened to Juan before that it could happen to Pedro and Petra, possibly, but the narrative will always be different as the life and times of every person is unique. You just have to capitalize on your strength and manage your weaknesses if you cannot entirely do away with it. The reason for the proverbial “it’s destiny” to be President is because “authenticity” is key. In the end, it’s about connection to the people, and there’s no recipe for that. Either you’re authentic or your not. You cannot be authentic if you are not authentic because it is difficult to remain effective in acting authentic in a constantly spontaneous environment.

Plus, the idea of timing is an important consideration. There’s no such thing as accidents. Opportunities come and made to come according to your unique position in society, this is one important example why knowing about the candidate is important. You might consider an incident or issue as an accident, as it is something you didn't expect, but it is not an accident in the sense that it will not happen to you if you are not in the position and particular circumstance at the particular time it happens. An opportunity to respond to an issue happens only when one is in a position to respond, if one is a party to the issue. You can nevertheless find situations where you’re not a party but could make yourself to be a party and be in a position to respond. Either way you have every means to prepare or at least figure out a way to act effectively.

There is no particular fixed rule or outcome in politics that is basically what we are trying to make sense here. Especially with the kind of system we have, everything depends on the person and so much is at stake at every issue and even circumstance. It is so damn difficult to calculate and expect things to happen as planned, not in the current political system. This is the same reason why it has always been sheer luck on the country’s part to have a good President. No party or electoral system can somehow determine who gets to be President as we don’t have real political parties and our electoral system is designed to focus on the person.

The key is in the first phrase, “No particular fixed rule.” One can be leading at a particular time and suddenly at a tail end in no time. Any party who initiates a particular propaganda is not always the one who ends up benefiting from it. Again, so much depends on the person dealing with a particular issue. A negative situation can be made positive, and this becomes the measure of one’s character and therefore leadership.

There are so many recent examples we can use in this regard. The rather challenging fix to what could have been a really divisive run up to the Speakership, the so-called “ninja cops” that suddenly hit the headlines, the damaging series of earthquakes in Mindanao, and of course the never ending drug war issues. We can dissect any and all of these in another occasion but for now we can focus on the latest development on the latter.

Most recently it has resulted to an interesting twist, the President admitting failure and defeat and sharing to the public the degree of difficulty that he said he did not expect. Depending on which side of the political fence you are, your reading of these pronouncements would either be positive or negative. Those who are supportive of the President and the administration have only seen magnanimity in this pronouncement. Those who have always seen the President in a bad light however see this only as an admission of failure.

Magnanimity or failure, the Vice President is now asked to be part of the anti-illegal drugs campaign. And as expected, there was a cacophony of voices reacting to the move of the President. Most notable of which is of course the view of many in the opposition that this is a trap and that the Vice President should not fall into it. This is an opportunity however; again good or bad, this is a chance for the Vice President to prove that there is a better way to what has always been claimed as bloody and ineffective government approach to its drug war.

On the side of the President, if we are to see something good into his policy action, we can assume 2 possible things. One, he wants to share to the Vice President the extent of the problem so that perhaps in the process, at the very least, there could be better communication between them. The hope perhaps is to show that it is really a dire situation that everyone’s help should be welcome. This then brings us to the second point, perhaps it is expected that the criticisms that preceded this appointment actually have options that could be considered to make the anti-illegal drugs effort more effective.

Of course, considering the fixture of distrust in politics, it is just right to see the President’s move as simply devious, that it was very well-planned to make the Vice President fail and therefore discredited. If this is true, those who thought of it should have also considered that in the course of the Vice President’s work, this devious plan would likely be discovered and seen by the public. In which case, the plan could backfire and that the Vice President will end up benefiting from what was intended to hurt her public persona.

In fact anyone in that situation could very well just really try one’s very best to do what’s right and show how much of a team player he or she is. Now if despite all these efforts, it still is a failure, it could no longer be blamed on the person, and perhaps the public, including all those who have become permanently partisan on both sides realize the real extent of the problem and at the same time shows the need to cooperate and work together. Either way, it could end up a win-win situation. Then again, let’s not get too much ahead of ourselves.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.