Leadership in a broad context has been defined by various individuals in their respective fields and perspective. Amongst those leadership definitions are at par with the trends and can be co-related with present day leaders, the common notion on how people perceive leadership is through discipline and the capacity to circumvent the perils and circumstances according to what is expected of an individual which emanates from his skills, knowledge and training.
Filipino Military Leadership is a narrowed concept which brings us to the question, what differs a Filipino Military Leadership from its vast definition? First, we have to understand the history on how and why did we came up with a specific type of military leadership our AFP of today are modernizing. Second, the understanding of the innate behavior and cultural inclination from different clans and tribes that complements the entire Filipino nation. And lastly, the evolution of leadership character from previously mentioned first and second instances.
Filipinos and even non-Filipinos are well aware of how the Philippines got its name and it has been discussed in World History, Asian Literature and Studies. We have to understand that since time immemorial, human conflict between tribes and clans were common within Filipino people to show dominance and strength. Thus, Filipino warriors were already accustomed in dealing with adversaries that are common and acknowledged. However, a foreign and unknown foe who were fought by our ancestors was the first development of Filipino Military Leadership which can be studied by reading the Battle of Mactan, while battling for supremacy and identity as a people, their primary loyalty was with their clans and tribes.
A foreign explorer tried to coerce these Filipino warriors to accept the Spanish Crown and to pay tributes but to no avail these warriors did not heed the call which manifests that our ancestors acknowledged their independence immune from external influence and though minimal in number but could defend their selves from foreign threats.
Our country had been a bastion of conquest, slavery and revolution. Several stages of internal conflicts occurred after but the second instance of Filipino Military Leadership development as we may recall is the Spanish revolt which resulted to the establishment of the Katipunan (an internal government acknowledged by the Filipino People) to fight for Freedom, Liberty and Independence against the Spanish colony. Through this struggle, several leaders emerged from different walks of life, others were cattle herders, merchants, businessmen and others were from professions beyond the call of a revolt which planted the seeds for the development of the modern Armed Forces of the Philippines.
For hundreds of years, including the involvement of Philippines in the World War II against the occupying Japanese forces formed several leaders through guerilla forces in a fight to liberate our country. The spirit of the revolution revolves around Freedom, Justice and the fight for Liberty for the Filipino Military Leader of that time and the main goal was for the Filipino people to have the Freedom to have progressive lives and enjoyment of the bounties of the Motherland instead of being exploited by their foreign colonial masters.
At present, the ever evolving of the Filipino Military Leadership had been developed with more complexities, the Filipino leaders have to deal with the evolving threats of the communist insurgencies and the rise of secessionist movements in Mindanao, to the turmoil of the 1986 EDSA revolution and the entry of foreign militant religious extremists form the porous character of the Philippines.
Through these series of armed struggles in different era with different people produced and developed a unified common leadership trait, a Filipino Military Leader. The AFP as a whole is the main component of the three branches of service, However, the Philippine Army had the vast experience in dealing with this conflict since it was this branch of service that was first established and experienced the incremental shaping of the Filipino Warrior Ethos.
The foundation of Leadership in the AFP revolves in three distinct characteristics, the AFP emphasizes on Character, Competence and Capacity – better known as 3C’s. Character may be defined as the natural identity of the leader, the environment that mold his personality and the persons who nurtured him, it can also be co-related with his personal moral values which is unique to the leader and may manifests in behavior, attitude, demeanor, and self-mastery. Most of the AFP leader’s character are developed through series of rigorous training and preparedness i.e PMA, OCS, Basic Military Schools, the ROTC including the education, training and experiences during the process.
Competence is a character contributing to the performance of achieving organizational objective and goals. Leaders can take advantages of balances and occasions to learn through career and non-career trainings and gain experience to be competent. Another source of these competence is through mentoring and being surrounded with people who were experienced and had been in the same situation during their service. Leader who has wisdoms shared during conference and meetings are beneficial factors that could be considered as an edge in being a competent leader.
Capacity is the combination of Character and Competence that optimizes all aspects of the leader. Capacity is seldom acknowledged as a leadership trait. And yet, it is extremely important to be competent and effective like have good decision making, ability to execute significant responsibilities and being to endure and excel under heavy demands and pressure.
Therefore, the first instance a specific type of military leadership our AFP of today are modernizing generate fighting power through the combination of the three components: The moral component provides the will to fight; the intellectual component provides the knowledge to fight; and the physical component provides the means to fight.
For the second instance, the concept of OODA-Loop is very important to raise the importance of cultural awareness and understanding in an environment in which the military necessarily operates to keep the nation safe and secure. The OODA-Loop stands for the cycle Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. In relation to culture, a leader must observe the way of life of the local populace, orient his own beliefs and thoughts according to what he observed and may decide to execute with the most appropriate Act thus completing the OODA-Loop. Culture may be defined as a collective attitude and behavior towards a common belief and understanding, culture may differ from one tribe to another, and to discern an appropriate act may be positive with a certain culture but may be insulting to another.
Primarily culture shows two primary dimensions: first, the manner in which people interact independently or interdependently; and second, how an organization, at the individual and team levels, responds to change.
There are actually five steps to ensure that organizational culture evolves the right way, 1) Assess and Diagnose the current culture of the AFP – Leadership usually starts thinking about the major transformation of cultures of the organization. Once the current measure has been measured, assessed, and diagnosed, the leader must define the culture that best suits the organizational needs. 2) Reflect the organization’s core values & strategy – the AFP’s culture core values are anchored on Honor, Service and Patriotism. But the leader must align those values to the overall strategy of the organization to ensure that policies, programs and procedures. 3) Get the Board of Generals “on board the same page” – Adapting the concept of the top-down doctrine, the AFP as whole functions depending on the guidance laid down by the top brass of the organization i.e the Board of Generals. This Board of General needs to harmonize since the three branches of services are anchored with different core values, hence, existentially, Boards reflect the organization at large. 4) Find the real influencers: Social mapping – While it is true that the behavior is modelled from top-down, real influencers are not visibly seen but may influence the whole organizational structure, these are the individuals who are risk-takers and are willing to learn, who are open-minded and ready to do things differently. During the adaption of new learning and innovation, these new behaviors create new norms that can be re-echoed, adapted and promoted to other teams as a new way of doing things, others may refer it as best practices. 5) Prioritize your people – our troops are not commodities per se, they are the most important resource in an organization, Leaders should prioritize subordinate engagement including their morale and welfare. Modernizing the AFP needs a modernized troops to run it, self-development, career progression and shaping the AFP around the troops as a center of the mission may move into true transformational, for the culture, the AFP as the organization and beyond.
In aligning Strategy, Goals and Culture, leaders maintain their effectiveness and efficiency by placing strategy and culture among their primary tools of leading. An Influential leader need not coerce troops to adapt to his guidance but imprints values and assumption persists for decades.
Understanding the history and transformation through cultural inclination developed the core values of the AFP – Honor, Service and Patriotism. As enshrined in the AFP Transformation Roadmap. The desired outcome i.e., Character, Competence and Capacity ensure a world-class leadership of the AFP which ties the Leader Development Framework which ties with the AFP Core Values and leaders must be ingrained with the world view. Soliciting feedbacks from a professional and personal standpoint molds leaders that lead the organization. In transitioning from one leadership level to another requires that leader submit themselves to the mentoring of the following: Institution, where leaders are trained to practice their leadership in a controlled environment to provide them with experience in a school setting. Organization, is an essential continuing development of the leader. It engages other leaders and reinforces their purpose relevant to the unit’s mission and to the over-all mission of the organization. Self-Development, considered as the most important enabler as it emphasizes the leader’s desire for lifelong learning and its impact in the organization. Roles in Public and Civic Organizations, the AFP is the bastion of the theme “winning the hearts and minds” and was adapted by foreign contemporaries and their armed services which finds that the Military Leader is more effective in fighting its wars without engaging in battles, the AFP as a fully participating citizen is truly worthy of their calling as constitutional public servants and to be part in contributing to nation-building.
Despite the development and the change on how Filipino Military Leaders evolved, there is still a need to continuously study and discuss the contemporary issues in order to enhance efforts and to address additional issues confronting leaders. As a foresight, leaders need to ponder and reflect on the possible future issues that may surface and to address them through the implementation of relevant programs. yet, this should not ignore the importance of history and of lessons learned.