Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

The leader as moral agent

Dr. Emiliano T. Hudtohan, EdD

Managing for Society, The Manila Times

March 5, 2007

Development programs for managers may produce managers who are masters of planning and organizing, black belters in organizing and staffing, and gurus in counselling, and problem solving.  Such managers may exhibit styles that produce essential order, consistency and predictability.

Leadership training, on the hand, produces change and adaptability to new competition, new products, new markets, new regulations and new customers.  Leadership is key to unlocking the heart, mind and spirit of a corporate member to help organizations move forward.  Leadership is about people skills.

Leadership need not simple be transactional, meaning learning management skills and acquiring corporate competence to be able to manage production, marketing, sales and financial goals.  It should include a transformational dimension, which is oriented toward moral development of the leader and followers.  It primarily looks upon the leader as a moral agent, someone whose presence at the work place brings out excellent performance in the lives of those he/she encounters.There is a challenge for business leaders to be more involved in the country’s democratic and economic development.  Corporate social responsibility is already gaining ground locally and it is expected to bring deeper awareness among business leaders of social justice and industrial harmony at the workplace.  Transformational leadership anchors its hope on leaders and followers raising one another to new heights of corporate achievement and moral development.

The interaction between leaders and follower results in “a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents.”  Transactional leadership is an exchange between a leader – a boss and a follower – as subordinate.  These do not necessarily involve money or material goods.  The exchange may include feelings such as friendship; for favors, such as a ride to work.  Hence, leadership is about transforming people and social organizations, not about motivating employees to exchange work for pay.

As a boss, you can try mandating and using your managerial positional power but the truth of the matter is, to be a leader, people have to choose to follow your because of the qualities you project.  Some of these qualities are intangible because personal qualities are based on inner core values and principles that are resident in one’s should, animus and spirit.

An ethical leader builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.  It is said that the soft value of humility is highlighted when the leader demonises a compelling modesty (never boastful) acts with calm determination and relies on inspired standard (not charism to motivate), channels ambition into the company (not to self), sets up succession for the next generation, looks out the window (not at the mirror) to apportion credit for the success of the company.

Furthermore, the law of WHYA (What have you achieved) must be augmented to the law of WHYB (What have you become).  WHYA stays behind when the leader leaves the office.  WYHB travels wherever the leader goes; it is what fuels one’s sense of pride and fulfilment at the end of one’s career.  Without a balance of the two metrics (WHYA and WHYB), leaders will be preoccupied solely with human hubris, focusing on what they achieve or will achieve.  The drive for achievement, when unchecked, can lead people to {“the slippery slope of unethical behaviour.”  The law of the Good Samaritan challenges the leader to be a Christian model whose altruistic orientation drives him/her to help others in spite of cut-throat competition.

A holistic balance between operational concern for results and concern for people would lead to high-performance companies, in the words of Jim Collins, “from good to great.”

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