What do Vico, Gwen and Jerry Have in Common (Part 2)

By Prof. Enrique Soriano

Heading towards the tail end of this lockdown and faced with an uncharted and unfamiliar event, the three local executives showed transparency, decisiveness and forcible action. They also prepared an overall plan for virus containment and specifically identified what needs to be done and where to pivot the local government’s focus. After the first wave of implementation, they then mobilized their logistic centers by deploying shuttles to ferry first responders, dispersed hundreds of mobile kitchens and prepared a war chest for displaced constituents with focus on the most vulnerable of them all, the sick and the elderly. Amidst the pressure and uncertainties, they exemplified hope and stability and constituents reciprocated their brand of leadership with admiration and pride.

Were the performances of Sotto, Garcia and Trenas worthy of admiration? I’d say it was not out of the ordinary but standard and expected of effective leaders. But when you do the law on averages, out of our country’s 80 governors, 138 city mayors, 1496 municipal mayors, the three stood out and proved themselves worthy of praise as authentic and remarkable public servants.



Indifferent leaders should start doing some form of assessment related to their performance before and during the lockdown. As the country braces for the full impact of the coronavirus, they must step up now before it’s too late. How to do it? Giuliani offers a glimmer of hope for complacent leaders. He summarizes several essential characteristics leaders should have when faced with a crisis:

  1. A set of goals and timeline to accomplish them. “You can’t lead people unless you know where you want to lead them. People are inspired when they’re working for higher goals, when they’re working to accomplish exceptional things.” Giuliani added.
  2. A leader must inspire belief that a problem can be reduced or mitigated, even if it cannot be eliminated entirely. Be the voice of reason, comfort and hope. Your constituents need to hear your assurances that things are being done in earnest.
  3. Bold and decisive form of leadership. Leaders must have the courage and the willingness to take risks and assume responsibility for mistakes.
  4. Conduct drills regularly. It is the practice of “relentless preparation,” Giuliani said in emphasizing his fourth crisis leadership tip. “A good leader is continually training his people for the inevitable crisis,” For every contingency, a well-established plan should be in place that can be executed anytime

As a crisis management advisor, let me add a few tips to complete the essential traits of an effective leader:

  1. Be calm in the face of adversity. A leader is constantly scrutinized for his or her behavior, but especially so in times of volatility and uncertainty.
  2. Keep your ears on the ground. Listen to your people. You are not alone. Surround yourself with a team that shares the same passion, sense of duty and mission.
  3. Be truthful and clear. Always communicate. Most people want to hear the truth delivered with confidence. Be brief and concise. Time is important, avoid the drama.
  4. Be compassionate. Any decision must always have integrity, dignity, and compassion. As the saying goes, anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. It’s how you navigate treacherous waters that determines what kind of leader you’ve become.

This extraordinary and overwhelming crisis demands more of our local executives as they are the ones leading the way. Only the best of breed will advance the interests of its constituents knowing that it makes everyone better off. As Nobel prize winner Wangari Maathai succinctly said that, “in the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called upon to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other.”

For leaders in this country, that time is now.