Thursday, April 23, 2015

4 Cs of Leadership: Qualities of a Good Leader (Part 1: Character and Competence)

This is a talk outline I've developed over some years of delivering similar talks to high school and college students. The original course was first conceptualized by Oliver Tuazon in a program called Leading Leaders: Uniting the Nation in Virtue. 


  • Below are some traits associated with a good leader
    • capable
    • intelligent
    • skilled
    • knows how to manage
    • can plan and look ahead
    • has relational skills
    • can drive his team towards an objective
    • All of the above refer to competence. A good leader is competent, i.e., does not do his job well
  • Other traits of what makes a good leader
    • cares for his subjects
    • selfless
    • wise
    • courageous
    • honest
    • disciplined
    • All traits above refer to virtues or good habits. A good leader is virtuous.
  • But what about Hitler, Bin Laden, some cunning and corrupt politicians?
    • Many are competent
    • But, either their objectives are evil, or their means are evil
  • In this talk we'll tackle the 4 Cs of Leadership


1. First C: Competence
  • Not just IQ
    • Some intelligent persons are not leaders, some leaders are not that intelligent
  • Definition
    •  Having the capacity of delivering what his position requires; delivering according to expectations
  • A Good Leader should perfect Competence by Excellence
    • But somehow we know that competence many times is not enough
    • Leaders many times are expected to go beyond the mere deliverables
    • This is Excellence
      • Not to be satisfied with mediocrity
      • Hindi pwede and pwede na
      • Gives all it can give; Give all or Give up
      • Story: Someone working for a politician: Is this your Best?
  • What can you do?
    • Constant desire to Learn
      • Requires study, experience, guidance
    • Be experts in what you have to be experts in - this is basic
    • But put interest in other fields of study
      • Do not have an Ant's Eyeview, but a Bird's Eyeview
      • You have to be an Eagle
    • If you're in the sciences, study the arts; if your are in arts, study sciences
      • Literature (e.g. Lord of the Rings), Music
      • Example: Steve Jobs studied calligraphy
    •      Look for venues where you can continuously develop yourself
      • Many things you'll need in life, you'll learn outside the classroom
2. Second C: Character
  • We've discussed character in the previous section, actually, what enables a leader to be competent is his character - his virtues
    • A person lacking in virtues, often times is incompetent (how can a lazy guy deliver a task which requires a lot of effort?)
    • So in discussing character, or virtues, we are going deeper into what man should have in order to be a good leader.    
  • What are virtues?
    • Good habits
    • 2 requirements are that they should be 
      • Habitual - done regularly, not just occasionally
      • Good - habits which are not good are called vices
  • Digression: On what is good
    • Something is good when it realizes its purpose
      • e.g. a clock that does not tell the time correctly is a bad clock
      • thus, something is good for you when it helps you realize your ultimate worth, goal or purpose
    • The big question now is: What is your Ultimate Purpose or End?
      • The clear answer to this is: It's not us. 
        • We cannot make ourself our own end because we didn't make ourselves
        • A machine does not create it's own purpose but is given one by its manufacturer
      • To cut to the chase, I will just tell you directly that our purpose is God 
        • (There is a full talk on God's existence and why he is our ultimate end, but we won't have time for it now)
      • We do not have an end higher than God
        • This is reflected in our constant desire for the Infinite and Absolute : Life, Truth, Good, Beauty
        • We are talking Reason here (Philosophy). This is not yet Religion.
    • So then, how do we live according to our purpose
      • Again, this is not for us to decide, but for our Manufacturer, our Creator, who is God
      • He has left us a User's Manual in the Natural Law
        • The Natural Law (or Law of Human Nature) has been left to us by God as a map for following him
        • Sample content: Don't kill; Be just; Be honest; Attend to those in need; etc.
        • This map has been written in our heart
        • God reminds us of it and speaks to us about it through our conscience
      • We are all aware of the Natural Law (although not all of us will call it as such), but sometimes, we disobey it 
        • This happens when we only see an apparent good (momentary good) instead of an absolute good (a good that leads us to the Ultimate End)
        • This happens because our passions and senses have valued a material or corporal good over a moral or spiritual good
        • Our passions and senses have overpowered our intellect and will 
      • This is why we need training in the virtues
  •  Training in the virtues is training our Intellect and Will to have dominion over our Senses and Passions
    • Review of Philosophical Anthropology
      • Faculties of the Body: Senses and Passions
        • Assesses material goods and needs 
      • Faculties of the Soul: Intellect and Will
        • Assesses moral and spiritual goods and needs  
        • Intellect: Knows the truth
        • Will: Seeks the good
      •  Since spiritual and moral goods are higher than material goods
        • Example: Charioteer vs. Horses
        • The faculties of the soul have to govern over the faculties of the body
        • The Intellect and Will should have dominion over the Senses and the Passions
        • This is precisely what training in virtues is about
  • Summary
    • Character is defined by Habits
    • Habits are developed through Actions
    • Actions are inspired by Principles 
    • Principles are good or bad depending on whether they help you realize your Ultimate Purpose
    • Therefore, get to know more about the right Principles: The Natural Law, and God, and Virtues. 
  • Suggested Action Steps
    •  Get to know more about the Natural Law and God
      • don't be satisfied with just a superficial, grade school-level knowledge 
      • attend classes
      • read good books
    • Get to know more about the virtues
      • attend classes
      • learn virtues by doing them: virtues are not learned by receiving a talk
      • get advice through mentoring

  • Both Competence and Character are equally important: Don't just aspire for one or the other
  • Competence without Character
    • Evil Leaders who are particularly good at doing their Evil and Selfish ends
      • corruptio optimi, pessima
  • Character without Competence
    • Everybody's good boy whom nobody listens to
Part 2: Creed and Charm (upcoming)

Photo Credit: Checkmate Chess by pnijhuis from

Saturday, February 14, 2015

One-word Poem: Ame ni ai

I look at a poem as a painting, in which words instead of colors and textures are used as the instruments to convey meaning, emotion or memory. For some time now, I have been thinking if it would be possible to come up with a one-word poem. I've come to the conclusion that there is one such word, that, just hearing it could evoke a multitude of meanings, visions, sounds, memories and emotions.

I would have presented the word to you immediately were it not for my recent fascination for haikus, a short Japanese poem that I have described in an earlier post. And so I thought of writing a one-word haiku, which I share with you below:


Haikus do not usually have a title, but if I'd choose one for the above poem, I'd choose 雨に愛 (Ame ni ai). This may be a bad thing to do since it's like explaining one's own joke. But I'd put it there just the same.

I won't blame you if you think this is all nonsense. Many poems and paintings have suffered similar fates, and that hasn't bothered their authors. It wouldn't bother me as well, because what's important for me is that I have dabbed the colors and textures of some words in the canvas of  your imagination.

For additional explanation on the Japanese, please see this post.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Exponential Backlog Theorem

Perhaps you've come across the saying "The more you know, the more you don't know."  I find it applicable to science: how new discoveries lead to more inquiries, how answers lead to more questions. I think a similar rule could apply to work, specifically, arrears of work. I call this the Exponential Backlog Theorem.

This theorem can be stated as "The more you work you do, the more work there is left to be done." This statement does not defy the elementary laws of algebra. It simply happens that sometimes, as we plough through backlog work, we discover more work that needs to be done.  And this could happen several times in the process, that instead of feeling that we are finishing work, we instead feel that we are now more buried with work than when we've started.

The proof of this theorem is, as you've guessed, trivial. And, following the age-old tradition of scientific publications, the proof is left for the readers as an exercise. 

To find out how an approaching deadline could affect your workload, please see The Deadline Limit Theorem.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Harry's Haiku

A haiku is a short Japanese poem that contains only 3 lines of verse. Traditionally, they are composed of 17 syllables distributed as 5-7-5 among the 3 lines.  The essence of a haiku is the kiru, a "cutting" represented by the juxtaposition of 2 images or ideas. Modern Japanese haiku do not necessarily follow the 5-7-5 syllabication rule. [1]

On one of my birthdays, I posted a Facebook status update, which I later realized, could qualify as a haiku (at least informally). I present it again here:

The author of Harry Potter went scuba diving;
She could have had it all,
She was Rowling in the deep.

I tried working on the 5-7-5 syllabication rule and got the following:

Potter's author dove;
She could have had it all, she's
Rowling in the deep.

Well, this fulfilled the 5-7-5 rule, but in my opinion, it had less impact than the informal haiku, in terms of delivering the kiru. In fact, I would almost say it's disastrous, so instead of calling it a haiku, I'd rather call it HAInaKU! [2]

[1] This paragraph was paraphrased from the Wikipedia article on haiku.
[2] From "Hay naku!", a Filipino phrase which expresses disappointment or exasperation. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Chants for Greeting Pope Francis in the Philippines

Pope Francis has finally arrived in the Philippines! Large crowds are gathering just to see a passing glimpse of the Pope of the people. Much larger crowds will be expected over this weekend at Tacloban, University of Santo Tomas, and Quirino Grandstand. For those participating in these events, there will be lots of walking, and lots of waiting. Hopefully there will also be lots of cheering. (Hey, the Pope is finally here! So let us all have a toast: Totus toast!)

Chanting has been one of the most electrifying experiences I've experienced in large gatherings with the Pope. It takes away boredom and gives a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Below are some of the popular chants that have been used in the past World Youth Day (WYD) events with the Pope.

¡Esta es, la juventud del Papa! 

¡Benedicto! (ka-clap-ka-clap-clap)! 

So what chants could we use for the gatherings with Pope Francis in the PhilippinesBelow are 5 suggestions.

1. Eto ang, kabataan ng Papa!
We could translate to Tagalog the Spanish chant "Esta es, la juventud del Papa!" to "Eto ang, kaba-taan ng Papa!"  The Spanish chant, which means "This is the youth of the Pope!", expresses the desire of the youth to support the Pope and the church. Pope Francis is familiar with it since it was used by the pilgrims of the World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013

2. Papa Francisco!
We could adapt the "Benedicto!" chant to "Papa Francisco!" (ka-clap-ka-clap-clap) to make it Tagalog or Spanish-sounding, or "Papa Francesco!" (pronounced "Franchesco") to make it Italian-sounding.

3. Francisco, we love you!
For those who participated in World Youth Day Manila (I will not mention the year, lest you guess my age), who could forget the chant "John Paul Two, We love you!"? This could be adapted into "Francisco, we love you!" Although the rhyme doesn't completely work out , I guess it's passable. :)

4. ¡Esta es, la juventud del Papa!
We could also just use the original Spanish: Esta es, la juventud del Papa!  Afterall, Filipinos know a lot of Spanish words already like "manzanas," "cuchara," "plato," and "tenedor."

5. ¡Mi Papa Francisco, te quiere todo el mundo!
The original chant was used for John Paul II: "Juan Pablo Segundo, te quiere todo el mundo!", for which I couldn't find a sample in YouTube (How is that even possible?).  It means "John Paul II, the whole world loves you!" The words could be changed to "Mi Papa Francisco, te quiere todo el mundo!", which means, "My Pope Francis, the whole world loves you!"  If you know the original chant, I'm sure you can easily guess how it should go. 

These chants, more that just a way to take away our boredom from waiting, express externally what we have internally: our love for the Pope (whom we see as Christ's representative on earth), our unity as a Church, and our obligations as Christians.

So start practicing! If you use these chants during the Papal gatherings, there may just be a chance that we'd see each other in a sea of five million people.