Antonio Luna was a chemist, pharmacist, fencer, writer, strategist and one of the greatest Philippine heroes. He was the first general who led the Filipino-American war and the founder of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). He was a brilliant and passionate leader. His love for his country and his passion to fight and die for the country was insurmountable. This fiery passion led him to be aggressive and strict towards the lazy and incompetent soldiers. His lack of intolerance over people’s disloyalty to the country pushed him to come across abrasive and unforgiving. Antonio Luna was against bureaucracy but was loyal and respectful to his leader, President Emilio Aguinaldo.
Strong-willed leaders are still a handful today. We need them in cases when we are threatened about losing the culture we enjoy at work and the stark reason we stay in the organization. When new decision-makers move in and demand everything to be changed, without taking the time to know what the culture is. This would be one great opportunity to show our love for our culture and fight for it. People either ‘fight or flee’. The latter would be the most convenient thing to do while the former paves a greater risk. We could only wish that the people will have the courage to fight for the culture. This is tough but if we persevere, every day, by demonstrating the culture, more in actions and results than words, then there is a greater chance to win it.
Sadly, there are leaders who rely on perceptions. They will only listen to what the people (who pretend to be loyal) around them say. A similar scenario was believed to be the cause of Gen. Luna’s death. The movie, “Heneral Luna” posited that Gen. Antonio Luna, while being an asset of Emilio Aguinaldo, he was also a threat. It was suspected that General Luna was defamed by the people around Aguinaldo, posing a threat to Aguinaldo’s position as the leader of the country. Aguinaldo failed to validate their claim and plotted Gen. Luna’s assassination. Yes, indeed, this scenario is still very much relevant today. Most leaders would just make changes without talking to the people first and seek clarity over perceptions or observations. Instead of making great improvements, people (the most important asset) start to leave hence their chance of success is out the window.
I hope that as leaders, we observe and listen to the people first and not act like the ‘messiah’ or the ‘you-need-my-kind-my-way mentality’. The key to your success as a leader is not you but the people who are in the front line and the people who do not visit your office often because they are busy working out there doing the best they can for the company and for the people they work for and love.
Attributes: Passionate, Intelligence, Perseverance, Valor