In the Spotlight: The Military Leadership Trademark

They can offer traits and values which they have learned in the military much to the advantage of our government agencies.

One of the seemingly unorthodox and controversial move by President Rodrigo Duterte was when he appointed former military men to his cabinet.  The public’s general criticism on the decision is that these military appointees have assumed posts that are out of their expertise’s scope – noting that other individuals are more deserving of the positions.

However, Gen. Alexander B. Yano, former AFP Chief of Staff and former Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, notes that in spite of the disfavor thrown at these military appointees, significant benefits of having them in President Duterte’s cabinet can’t be denied. According to Yano, the said appointees can offer traits and values which they have learned in the military much to the advantage of our government agencies. Here are some of the characteristics that will make them stand out among the rest:

  1. Discipline
    As part of their training, military men have learned how to strictly observe rules and how to become conscious of their duties and personal responsibilities. They are ingrained through training and constant practice, they are taught how to exercise initiative without guidance and supervision from superiors, they demand correct performance of duty, and have learned to surmount different situations no matter how difficult and challenging they may be.

  2. Mission-orientedness
    Their mindset is always focused on their mission despite hardships and obstacles along the way. In case of conflict, mission accomplishment takes precedence; in some instances, lives are even sacrificed in the pursuit of mission. Lastly, excuses and justifications should not hinder the dogged determination to accomplish their goals.

  3. Decisiveness
    Military men aren’t afraid to make decisions quickly under pressure and distress, and then make corrections later, if needed. They can be flexible with their own respective decisions if they shall encounter unforeseen challenged along the way.

  4. Dependability
    One of the most important advantages of military men as they take over in some of the top government positions is that they can be relied upon to complete an assigned task, whether simple or complex, and give necessary feedback or updates to their superiors.

  5. Adaptability
    As part of their service, they are well-traveled and exposed to different cultures and places of assignments (even in far-flung areas). With just minimum notice, they are transferred to various areas which is why they are highly adaptable without complaint. They are basically used to life where there are unexpected changes and movements. 

  6. Tenacity
    A military man, according to Gen. Yano, is used to confronting many challenges in extreme conditions in combat and cope in periods of stress. As compared to civilian bureaucrats who are constrained by office hours (8AM-5PM), a military man can work 24/7 which is normal in military life. They have self-imposed deadlines; what others can complete in months; they can finish in days.

  7. Proactiveness
    Most of the time, they work with minimal guidance and direction from seniors. Even without instruction, they pursue their duty in accordance with the superior’s intent.

  8. Leadership
    Having handled big organization and thousands of men and resources, military men have developed their leadership abilities. They have a great deal of experience in making decisions in difficult situations and under stress. Their long experience has imbued the soldier with sufficient maturity and wisdom.

  9. Concern for Others and the Team
    Their primary concern is directed for the mission and team and not for personal gain. They are taught to help other members of the team too.

Gen. Yano added that common misconceptions about military men include labeling them as “yes-men” and that they just follow orders blindly. He was displeased with this misapprehension and argued that they undergo a comprehensive decision-making process. Once extensive discussions and brainstorming sessions have already occurred within them, they come up with a final decision where everybody is expected to toe the line; contrary to their civilian counterparts who are engrossed in a lot of delaying antics. “The military man is instilled with the mindset that aggressive action/implementation follows a decision,” he added. Moreover, he said that military men also take civilian courses and trainings, and some even took masters and PhDs in the best universities in the country and in abroad which is an indication that they are more than just military affairs/matters.

Gen. Yano also explained that there might be other reasons as to why the President was prompted to appoint military men in his cabinet. “He may be impatient with the pace of implementation of various projects and programs in the different agencies. He must have worked with many military men during his tenure as Davao City mayor and observed their work ethics. Military men are too focused on mission accomplishment. When assigned a task, he puts full dedication and tenacity to complete it at a given timeline. With a limited 6-year term and a slow-moving team, he could not expect to accomplish much for the period,” Yano told THE LOBBYIST.