On Leadership


I just finished the Business Leadership for Emerging Futures program at the Asian Institute of Management. The course is a five-day program on leadership and it focuses on emerging & contemporary frameworks for being a leader. I was attracted to the program because after the Human Behavior in Organization (HBO) class during my MBA student days, I didn't take any other class to sharpen my leadership skills.

The program centers on Theory U, a framework where leadership is seen as a process of inner knowing and social innovation. The faculty in the course were Prof. Ging De Guzman, Prof. Sonny Coloma, Prof. Poch Macaranas, Prof. Ricky Lim and a guest resource person, Ms. Ana Valdes-Lim (yes, she's the same Ana Valdes-Lim from improv theater/comedy who conducted a communication workshop for us MBA students in 2007.)

After taking the course, I had some new insights on being a leader:

  • For one, I had to let go of the notion that a leader has to be perfect, someone who has all the answers to problems in a team. One of the points that I liked was that a leader doesn't have to know all the answers all the time, or a leader has to be all good news. 
  • I also thought it was a leader's job to shield the team from problems, only letting the good news reach them. It emerged that sometimes, the bad news is what will spur positive change. 
  • Another thing I appreciated is the emphasis on the collective effort of groups. It was mentioned that "A group effort will beat the lone genius." This is a paraphrase from The Wisdom of Crowds.
  • I also liked this insightful nugget from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him....But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"

The class was composed of business executives (GM's, VP's,) and, like most of AIM's programs, it had comprised of different nationalities.

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