You gotta laugh when you read about people coming to the defense of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. There is enough reason to take Roxas’s numerous laughable publicity stunts with a grain of salt at best. An executive riding a motorbike without a helmet to do work he should be delegating to a competent and experienced field worker with specialised expertise should be fired.
The trouble with Roxas defenders is that they cannot see the point that the late Charles Schulz expressed about these sorts of things through his beloved Peanuts character Linus van Pelt…
Until it is demonstrated, one readily forgets the truly vast difference which exists between the merely competent amateur, and the very expert professional.
True executives demonstrate and contribute value by spending more time thinking and using the output of that activity to effect smart leadership. While Bill Gates cut his teeth writing code as a young man, he steered Microsoft to world domination as a mature executive by being a business leader, not a code monkey. Microsoft’s shareholders wouldn’t have been too happy with the alternative, seeing the world’s richest man spending his days debugging hundreds of thousands of program lines. It is a point I had gone to some lengths to explain in simple terms in my book…
Our pre-disposition to act without reflection, planning, and yes, thinking, is deeply engraved into the Filipino psyche. It is a primal instinct that once saved our ancestors from being eaten up by predators. Unfortunately the world has since changed. Simply working hard no longer produces enough results. I once knew a guy whose idea of managing was occasionally getting on a forklift and helping out with the grunt work of stacking and re-stacking warehouse stock. The whole point of this effort, I believe, was to promote this whole “let’s roll up our sleeves and all work together to tackle this” ethic in the team. The extra hand was of course helpful to the ten-odd forklift operators in the team.
But let’s do the maths around this apparent augmentation of that team’s productivity by the heroics of this manager. To add another forklift driver to a team of ten forklift drivers in effect increases that team’s output by 10%. Very good. But then if we consider that this manager is paid ten times the salary of the average forklift operator, we find that he has effectively doubled the operating cost of that team by joining in the effort of driving around a forklift. So his net added-value to the team is actually in the negative (doubling costs while increasing productivity by only 10%). He would definitely have been better off spending his time doing what he was paid to do – managing and thinking. Imagine a bunch of forklift drivers goading their manager – a person whose core skill is thinking – to “get down from his ivory tower and just help us stack crates on the shop floor”. Sound familiar?
Mar Roxas going out on a motorbike (or directing traffic in the rain, or carrying around a sack of onions, or hammering a nail into a school desk) is tantamount to Filipino taxpayers buying a Mercedes Benz and using it for hauling manure. And here we are raising fists of indignation over “overpriced” government buildings. It turns out Filipinos did not know what they are talking about. The same principle applies. Mar Roxas is paid for his brain, not his muscle. If he wants to be a field commander, then he shouldn’t be sitting in an executive position. In Mar Roxas, we have an overpriced “asset” (if one can even regard him as such).
The good Secretary should embrace all this “ridicule”. It’s good for the soul and builds character. He should get out of the comfy zone his apologists laid out for him and learn from his critics. Kids who are told they are “the best” even when they suck at something grow up to be pussies. Kids who come of age in a nurturing but realist learning environment go on to become the kick-ass leaders the world needs.
Perhaps Mar Roxas, like his boss Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, being politicians’ and oligarchs’ sons are just acting in a manner consistent with the sort of upbringing one would expect of kids of their background. They expect to be always well-liked and their actions always abundantly praised — which is why they grow up to be ridiculous men and go on to become ridiculous leaders.
Ridicule is not a “tool”. It is a response. Perhaps some observers are reading too much into the widespread ridicule Roxas is copping as a result of his sad publicity stunts. This ridicule is not being pushed onto him, rather he pulled it upon himself. There is no conspiracy to crush Mar Roxas. There is no organised effort to undermine him (as if being ‘organised’ is a skill Filipinos are renowned for). And certainly this “ridicule” did not come out of nowhere because it has a vast body of bases for its existence and prevalence.
Rather than be in denial, Roxas should open his eyes and face The Truth about the way the Filipino public perceives him.
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