Can you recall your favorite high school teacher?

Image from: The National Education Association

Do you recall the name of your favorite high-school teacher? Of course, you do. Mine is Ms. Bautista, our high school Filipino teacher in Colegio San Agustin. I had the privilege of taking her class.

I was first enrolled in Colegio San Agustin or CSA at grade one. My grade school and high school memories are fleeting. This comes with age. As years go by, I can remember only bits and pieces of my school days. The names of some of my classmates already elude me. I also forgot how some of them look like.

However, two teachers stand-out. They are Ms. Bautista and Mrs. Tolentino. Both teachers stood out from the rest because they believed in my potential. They believe that all students have great potentials. I was not the brightest student in my class. I would even position myself at the lower half of the class in terms of average grades.

Despite my lackluster grades, these two teachers believed that I can do better. They saw potentiality rather than problems. They kept encouraging me instead of putting me down. Other teachers would take a stand that if you are less than average then they leave you at that. A few teachers only care about their pay and benefits.

Ms. Bautista and Mrs. Tolentino would find ways to encourage me and others to try to perform better. We were encouraged to be better. They took the time to explain again the lessons we did not understand.

Fast forward to corporate life. Similarly, the leaders I recall with respect and admiration are those that showed confidence in my abilities. Whenever I or my colleagues made a mistake, these leaders would talk about why the mistake happened. We would then discuss how to resolve the problem and prevent a recurrence.

These leaders also took the time to develop us. Our development was intentional and planned. They know that a great part of their responsibility is to develop their direct reports and their people. I recall these leaders from the lessons I learned from them. This is very similar to the teachers I recall.

On the other hand, countless times, I witnessed various leaders that immediately attack employees for mistakes rather than figure out the cause of the problem. They start looking for who to blame instead of helping resolve and prevent a recurrence. The default decision is guitly based on the grapevine. Guilty, based on other people’s opinions. Guilty even before hearing out the concerned employee.

I had the opportunity to work with over two dozen leaders in my corporate life. However, very few of them I can recall by name. The ones I can recall are leaders that raise up their teams rather than bring them down. They stand out so clearly that they are easily recalled. They stand out because I try to emulate their leadership style and be like them. They stand out because they are servant leaders.

Teachers are like leaders. They have hundreds, if not thousands, of followers throughout their careers. The ones that stand out are the ones that believe in and take the time to develop their students. The ones that stand out are the ones that make a difference in their student’s life. They stand out because just thinking about them puts a smile on my face. They stand out because they are servant leaders to their students.

Great teachers improve their student’s life.

How about you? Who are your favorite teachers and why? If they are still around, I strongly suggest that you reach out and thank them.

Stay Safe everyone,

Jordan Imutan
www.servantleadersph.com

Decisions of a Servant Leader

“It is important for us to have leaders with the Fear and the Love of God.”
Major Vico Sotto

Our Victory Pastor Marc Constantino shared a story about our Mayor Vico Sotto in todays 9 am service. Pastor Marc had a friend that was working on-site at a public works program. It happened that Mayor Vico Sotto dropped by to check how the program was coming along.

Pastor Marc’s friend was able to have a brief conversation with the Mayor. After a few minutes, Mayor Vico Sotto was asked why he did not have a big banner on the site saying “A project of Mayor Vico Sotto.” I am certain that you have seen such banners in different cities. The former Mayors of Pasig used to love having such banners all over the city.

Mayor Vico Sotto politely smiled and said that he could not do that. He cannot put up a banner saying that it was his project. This project is funded by the people of Pasig. It was not right to claim that it was his project.

This is a far cry from the other mayors who blatantly claim credit over the public works in the city as their project. They dare to claim this even when the funding is coming from the taxpayers of the city.

People seated in positions of power want to hold on to power. That’s where the problem begins. It’s no longer about serving their people. It’s not about servant leadership. It is now about self-serving leadership. This is when greed creeps in. This is when decisions are no longer beneficial for the people they serve. Decisions are now swayed by personal interest.

Pastor Marc wonderfully stated a question to ask ourselves when making decisions – “Does my decision glorify God or does it glorify me?”

Leaders from organizations, corporations, governments fall into the same trap. Do their decisions honor God and the people they lead? Are their decisions wise with the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Are their decisions based on just knowledge on how they can better their lives?

It’s unfortunate to see them claim that what they are doing is for the common good. They would show themselves as sacrificing for the people they lead. Are they? Do their decisions glorify God?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

For as long as leaders do not have the humility to fear and lean on the Lord for wisdom then their intentions are questionable. Their decisions are questionable no matter what they claim. 

For as long as leaders do not serve the people they lead then they are quietly serving themselves.

Let me leave you with two points:

  1. Leaders, fear the Lord and you will be able to decide wisely.
  2. Leaders, your decisions should glorify the Lord.

This is one of the pillars of true servant leadership.

Why do we promote leaders to fail?

Why is it that most companies neglect to train leaders before promoting them? Why is it that after promoting leaders to fail, we are the first to point fingers and say that they are no good? Why is it that training leaders are not a priority?

As I watched one of Simon Sinek’s talk on ‘the long game’, a realization dawned on me. I saw only two companies that understand the importance of training leaders. That is not a lot compared to over 30 years of corporate experience. All employees in line for promotion (or new leaders hired from outside the company) have to undergo this three-month program.

I can still recall this quote I saw hanging on the wall of the HR Division of a huge Commercial Bank in Saudi. It’s a quote from management guru Peter Drucker. It says “If you think training is expensive, try ignorance.”

Try ignorance. You will see leaders waiting for instructions instead of leading. You will see leaders mimicking bad leadership practices because they don’t know better. You will see leaders taking credit for the work that their teams accomplished. You will see leaders shunning accountability for the failure of their team. They are quick to point fingers at their people. Some of them even do so in public. As expected, this leaves a bad feeling for the rest of the employees.

Not developing your people and your leadership rank is very short-sighted. Companies are so focused on making a quick profit. They set aside the long-term financial gains of developing great leaders. It’s a long game, my friends. You may win now, but poor leadership will harm the organization a few years down the line.

Why are Japanese companies so successful with decades of market dominance? For one thing, they understand the importance of investing in people development. The other is that they play the long game. They look at how their decisions today will benefit the company years from now and not just for the next quarter.

It’s such a logical decision to develop your people and leaders. Yet, not a lot of companies have such development plans. The former CEO of the National Commercial Bank doubles the training budget in difficult times. Other companies are slashing away.

Why double? Because developing our leaders and our people is more important in difficult times. We need them to perform better. It’s easy to be a good leader when times are great. It’s easy to take credit for a strong market. It’s easy to claim the success of a strong and respected brand. It’s easy to bask in your ego.

But, how does this same under-developed leader perform in challenging times? He will not know what he does not know. They have to know and learn strong leadership practices. They have to learn it now.

A similar mistake happens when promoting employees to leadership roles. They assume that a strong subject matter expert is a great leader. Newsflash! The skills needed to be a great subject matter expert and a strong leader are different.

Promoting a great sales executive into a sales management role is bound to fail without a development plan. By doing this, we destroyed the role he left behind. We took out a strong sales executive from the sales force. We also destroyed the role of the sales manager. We placed someone who was not provided the right tools into the leadership role. After a few months in the job, the sales manager quits because he was not happy with his new role. He will be struggling to motivate, empower and develop his team. There is also the possibility that he will boss them around. Worse, the higher-ups get rid of him and label him as an incompetent leader.

I have been around in the corporate world long enough to see the damage of these decisions. Such decisions impact the promoted leader, the people around him, and the company.

The quality of leadership in a company is very important. The quality of leadership determines the success or failure of the organization. Let’s equip our leaders, let’s invest in them, let’s mentor them, let’s grow them to be great leaders. There are a few things more important than this.Jordan Imutan