Taking stock of the hopefuls (Part 1)

published July 13 2015
We often lament how politics, Philippine-style, has always been personality-driven without much regard for the overall qualities, experience and background of a candidate.
Look at where this has taken us. Many years after a so-called revolution on Edsa inspired the rest of the world to undertake changes of their own, we remain in the dark ages of political patronage, electing leaders because of their surnames, their popularity, their image. How they fit certain archetypes. How they are able to respond to their constituents’ “needs”. How quickly they arrive at the scene when there is something wrong. How refreshing they appear to be compared to the tired, old style of those whom they purport to replace.
Alas, because the basis of our collective decisions are appearances, it follows we are easily disillusioned, quick to criticize and call for resignations.
This is a fundamental problem in our election system that not even the most sophisticated, fraud-proof voting and canvassing technology cannot address. This is, after all, how voters decide whom they vote for, in the first place.
Perhaps this explains, too, why we never seem to be able to be happy with the choices we make, feel a sense of community and deep patriotism that would allow us to be more involved in our nation’s affairs beyond the occasional pseudo-political commentary on social media. 
This problem has been noticed by management professionals and academicians, as well.In mid-2003, the Management Association of the Philippines through its governance committee headed by its then-chairman, Rex Drilon II, embarked on a project that would help Filipinos make their choices for the 2004 polls in a more systematic, deliberate  way.
MAP enlisted the help of Vic Magdaraog, one of its most active members, to head a task force and research team that would look into what a Philippine president must be. Volunteers from the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines and the People Management Association of the Philippines  joined the research team, as well.
Choosing a president is an issue of leadership. Magdaraog’s team then looked at the existing leadership models used by management professionals and organizations and determined which among these roles best fit the Philippine setting.
 The team eventually narrowed down the “must” roles to five: Navigator/ Strategist, Mobilizer, Servant Leader, Captivator and Guardian of the National Wealth, Patrimony and Law and Order. Each of these roles were defined and clarified, with the behavior and competencies associated with each role fleshed out.
The committee then conducted its own campaign to ask people to use said standards in objectively coming up with a decision to choose the next leader.
This was 12 years ago, but the research remains relevant especially these days as we draw closer to deciding, once again, whom we should pick to lead us.
Let’s not get distracted by the antics of the personalities – let’s instead put them under scrutiny to see if they can indeed take on the challenges of one of the toughest jobs there is. And then let’s do the math – devoid of sound bytes, emotional appeal and other distractions.
More on the five roles in my next column.