Real deal-A A +A
Friday, August 24, 2012
“THE Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve.
Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader, 1970
There are very few women and men in politics that really serve the people with their lives. Fewer even put themselves last for the sake of the people. A lot of them weeks before the elections say, nay, promise that they will be ‘servant leaders’. Very few of them deliver on that promise negating the ‘servant’.
What does it mean anyway, to be a servant? To me that word is our history. Many years ago, ‘servant’ as opposed to freed man was the reason why the Katipunan was founded. This single word tells the story of men and women, all oppressed by the friars, Gubernadorcillo and the landlords. This word spelled out how deprived the people were of justice, food, education, self-determination, the right to believe what they wanted to believe. Meaning that if they wanted to believe that the gods of the forest reigned supreme over the friars they had the right to do that. If the women wanted to have rituals they could do that without hiding. If they were different they would not be punished for being different. If the existing tribes that greeted the Spaniards wanted to wear their traditional garb they could, men and women alike bare breasted and proud. Servant meant subjugated, negated and hated. Servant meant that you bowed your head in shame because your status is lower than most, you are only good for getting down on your knees and cleaning floors and kissing your master’s foot. This meant that you walked backwards to leave the presence of your master, eyes downcast. Nowhere in the old understanding of the word said that you could stand proud, and initiate action when it was needed. Nowhere did it say that your visions for a better tomorrow could be made reality.
Secretary Jesse Robredo was one such man. Of course he had mistakes, he was as human as the rest of us. But he exemplified the concept of who is a servant-leader. The people were part of his plans. He consulted them, listened to what they had to say, not the token-listening kind such as wont to do by many a politician, the real kind, all eyes and attention to who was talking. He constantly chose to empathize with the people. This is why he walked the streets with no bodyguards, in his slippers. He wanted the people to know that he understood. In this day and age where people are pessimistic, disappointed and even distrustful of ‘public-servants’, he gave the people a reason to trust again. He did this by being a man of his word. Palabra de honor is a rare commodity these days and he showed in his work that he had this. This is how he healed the people of their distrust of his position. He was aware of what the problems were, because of this awareness he sought the solutions to these problems. He broke away from the traditional mould of the leader that lorded things over his people. He was persuasive but not a dictator. He was a leader that looked at the day to day and saw realities but also saw the bigger picture. One could see that that was what he geared up for, a better future. He had the vision and foresight. He took care of the hard-earned trust of the people. His life was a commitment to the growth of the people and the communities around him.
Rest in peace Secretary Jesse Robredo, you really were the real deal. May the Philippines have more men and women like you, the best example of servant-leader.
Email your inquiries and feedback, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 24, 2012.