Core values

What is the essence of leadership? Integrity. It’s as simple as that. I have read so many books on leadership written by both female and male authors, and their dissertation all boils down to one basic ingredient of leadership – integrity.

The past many weeks, we have been bombarded with attacks and counterattacks, offense and defense, call it whatever you want, on television, print, and radio, by either the opposition or administration camp, and all because of a recorded conversation between two persons.

I do not wish to explore the issue. It’s an overkill, to say the least. What I care about is the integrity of the leader, the first person referred to in the recording.

Why it took the leader so long to admit that she was the first person referred to in the recording is beyond me. Perhaps lack of courage. Perhaps waiting for the opportune time – after all, timing is everything. Perhaps waiting for the right public relations spin.   Whatever maybe the reason, it is moot and academic now. Everything is in the open. In fact, it’s like a market place now. It’s a circus. It’s very lamentable.

The leader has apologized to the country. It must have been an excruciatingly painful moment to admit one’s mistake after having been silent for a time. After the public apology, the circus has expanded.

Integrity cannot be compromised. When one occupies the highest position of the land, there are certain core values one has to uphold. A close friend of mine who occupies a position of leadership himself says, “all elections are dirty”; “all politicians do dirty tricks”; “is there a better substitute?”; “what we can do now is unite, support and contribute for the welfare of the country”; “the Filipinos are not politically mature as a people”, etc… I remember saying, “is that an excuse for us to condone lying and compromising integrity?”

I know that elections are perceived to be dirty in this country; all the more the lot of politicians, which is really unfair given the fact that there are many good women and men in politics, but maybe this is the beginning of maturity. Who knows? If we must walk on our bended knees to grow as a people, so be it. There is always a reason for everything. The good book says that. And I do not believe that we lack for good people to lead this country. That’s totally unacceptable. It’s a slap on the face of the Filipino.

I always respect righteous indignation. This comes out when deception is uncovered or a wrong is exposed. Naturally, people get angry when they are taken for a ride.

Time and again, we have always been asked to unite, support and contribute for the welfare of the country. I have heard this appeal since I was a kid. That’s why most of my professional life is devoted to government service because I want to contribute to society. But that is no excuse for compromising the truth.

John Maxwell, an author specializing on Leadership books, puts it bluntly, “it’s lonely up there”. True, it’s lonely to occupy a position of leadership for you are viewed from a magnifying lens, and everything you do or not do, will be interpreted differently by different people. Most of the time, you are alone. That’s how lonely it can get. But that is part and parcel of the sacrifice if one aspires a position of leadership. One will not become a leader if he or she does not aspire it. You have it because you aspired for it. It’s as simple as that.

That’s why it is essential to be surrounded by good men and women with impeccable character to consult with; supported by a group that consistently prays for the leader to be guided by wisdom and discernment when decisions are made on issues that affect the country and its people.

It’s not easy to be a leader. It can break one’s heart. It is a big sacrifice. But no matter how gargantuan the sacrifice is, there is still no compromise on integrity.

Note: This article was originally written by the author in 2005 for her newspaper column.

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Gossip, anyone?

downloadAt one time or another, we could become the subject of the nastiest gossip around. These mean talk could come from either a work colleague, an immediate relation, friend, a person who is neither friend nor foe, more so, from someone who perceives us as THE enemy, be it in the sphere of politics, career or profession.

People can be really cruel. They can be malicious. They can spread rumors about us that either leaves us angry or downhearted.

But first, let us examine why others resort to this bad habit. There must be a reason. Otherwise, why bother? It would only increase the popularity or the market value of the person you are gossiping about, without you knowing it. Imagine, she (for purposes of discussion, our subject is a woman) is so important to you that you have to spend time talking about her.

I can identify three motives. The first motive could be insecurity. The “subject” of the nasty attack, could have possibly stimulated the pangs of insecurity that the gossiper has tried so hard to conceal, but unsuccessful to resolve through time. Being with her reminds the gossiper of his or her own feelings of inadequacies and unimportance. By the way, gossiping is not the exclusive domain of women. There are plenty of men-gossipers.

imagesNaturally, it is easier to character assassinate the person causing you discomfort rather than going through the process of resolving your own issues (which if you only care to explore further, is better in the long run since you get rid of the root cause of your insecurity. But that’s another topic for another column). People have the uncanny ability to pass blame on others. They will not accept fault.

Moreover, most people are always in denial. While reading this column, how many of you could possibly declare that you have processed all the issues haunting you from yesteryear?

Second, envy. You see the person as your bitter competition. Why bitter? Because the person has the talents and gifts that you don’t have. You are discontented. You are resentful. How many times has the gossiper become upset with the thought that this woman is better than him/her?

At our ages, most of us have not reached self-actualization yet. We are still struggling to create a name, or perhaps make a mark, or even get rich. Because we can’t hack it – not yet anyway, we become envious of others who have. What a sad story.

It is a sad commentary that even with the encouragement of our pastors and priests, and even our close friends to accept our present realities, and be content with what we have, we still continue on the path of denial. So many inspirational books have taught us to be content with our present situation. Time and again, we are reminded that God made each one of us unique – with distinct talents and abilities. But others have more – perhaps because they are called for a higher purpose. We should be contented with what we have – enjoy our uniqueness – and count our blessings.

Third, you are simply a ”gossiper to the core”. Gossiping is a disease. It has infected you. It has contaminated you. It has overtaken your sensible and rational mind. It simply itches not to talk about people especially their idiosyncrasies. People have become your pastime. How pathetic. You have really sunk so low in the hierarchy of civility and good manners.

People are easy prey to gossips either as the subject thereof, or being the gossip-propagator himself. People may not know that the tag “gossiper” is negative and does not speak well of the person concerned.

Unfortunately, in any work environment, there are so many who engage in this unprofessional, unhealthy and indecent lifestyle. You find them everywhere clad in so-called professional clothes, fashionable garb, uniform, or even the most ordinary day-to-day wear.

The practice of gossiping does not respect gender, profession, position, status, wealth, faith, intelligence or age. It can strike anyone.

So what are the sensible to do given the gossipers who thrive in work environments? That’s a tough question.

download (1)Let me venture a recommendation. First, identify a gossiper. It’s not difficult to spot them. They could be in front of you right now. Stay away from the gossiper for your own good – the gossiper’s spirit is so full of vile; it will contaminate you.

If you find yourself in his/her company assuming that you work together, or belong to the same club or organization, immediately extricate yourself from his/her company. In short, excuse yourself.

When you are trapped, meaning there is no exit in sight, and they start the vicious attack on a person, NEVER, ever, join them and drag yourself down to their lowly position. Do yourself a favor, save your honor and keep your dignity intact by keeping your mouth shut. Do not involve yourself in the mudslinging.

Now, when you find yourself the subject of the gossip, take the high road and totally ignore it.

images (1)Naturally, the gossip will offend your sensibilities – you are only human after all – but stooping down the gossiper’s level is the worst that could happen to you. Let their tongues rot in their own venom while you surround yourself with friends and allies. Visit your friends and allies; have dinner with them; share your momentary pain with them. Derive encouragement and inspiration from people who share the same passion, values and interests while drawing strength and shield from your God. Comfort yourself with the thought that like anything else, the gossip on you will be fleeting. It will soon pass. But through it all, you have proven yourself cut above the rest. You have managed to show them from what stuff you are made of – educated, cultured and well brought-up.

So, cheer up! You have overcome.