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Family Life: Building Strong Families – What Makes Good Leaders? Part 2

What kind of leaders does our country need at this time and in the future? What a leader has to be (character, background), what a leader has to know, and what a leader has to do are important considerations that we discussed last week. Today, we continue this series on making good leaders that begins at home.

The history of Philippine politics in the past several decades have shown us that political posts have mostly become jobs to earn perks and “porks” for oneself and for family members. Research shows that 70% of the 15th, and 50% of the 16th to 17th Congress came from the same clans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives (Penera, The Varsitarian 2018; Mendoza 2016). Our national scene is littered with political dynasties that should give us enough evidence through the years of those we should or should not vote. A recent news of siblings vying for the same position putting each other down while the father, a former occupant of the same position for years and with cases of corruption hounding him and his son, tried to stand in-between, is a case in point. Incumbents usually have a kin to run while they are in power to circumvent the term-limit to keep the political business machinery within the family or clan (see Labonne, Parsa, and Querubin 2017, 6-10). Ateneo School of Government dean Ronald Mendoza et al’s (2012) research showed that greater prevalence of political dynasties in the provinces outside of Luzon implied greater poverty as power could be more consolidated without having to promote development. There may be exemptions to this, but they are few. Maybe this is why one person retired from military service that I interviewed said he would vote new ones running for office.

Sadly, our electorate has become so used to transactional leaders who may provide immediate needs but will also enrich themselves. We suffer a great lack of leaders who have vision for our country and people and carry out their tasks with a sense of mission. Our country is in dire need of transformational leaders, people who will stand for what is good and right and influence others to become leaders who do the same. We should be on the lookout for those who may not have the political machinery, political dynasty, star billing, but have sincere desire to make a difference and have some track record to show. Meanwhile, as we hope and pray for change in the entrenched political landscape practices, what kind of leaders should we look for and develop in our homes?

Many leadership models and theories approached from many angles, such as historical, political, cultural, social, behavioral, organizational, and many others, have been proposed and studied, depending on the needs of the times. In the last few decades, research has shown that the transformational leader differs from and sometimes obtains superior outcomes than those of other leadership styles. James Burns (1978) first introduced the concept of transforming leadership as opposed to the usual transactional kind. Transformational leadership is one that elevates followers and empowers them to grow and accomplish more for the common good. And this kind of leadership is developed at home.

It is an accepted fact, as stated by Bass (1985, p. 174) that “childhood and adolescent experiences contribute heavily to the formation of the personality of the transformational leader.” Bass (1990, p. 5) wrote that parenthood makes “a ready-made patterns of leadership.” Karnes and Bean (1991, p. 1) noted that “ . . . preparing young people for leadership responsibility begins in the home with an enriched environment that offers opportunities for children to acquire broad interests, self-esteem, and the insights and skills that characterize leaders.” Bass (1960) suggested that leadership potential is greatest among those children whose parents provide stimulating environments for the children, opportunities for decision-making, encouragement, and acceptance. Urie Bronfenbrenner noted that leadership was more likely in families wherein both parents are less rejecting, less punitive, and less overprotective. He wrote that “affiliative companionship, nurturance, principled discipline, affection, and affective reward appear to foster the emergence of leadership in sons but discourage it in daughters,” who usually gets an overdose of it” (in Petrullo and Bass 1961, 261). It is clear from these and other studies that certain parental ways of relating with children foster the development of transformational leadership in children.

If we are to grow and develop transformational leaders among our Gen Zs (those born in 1995+) and Gen Alpha (those born in 2010+) so that we can hope for a brighter future in our political landscape, how do we go about doing that? We will write more about it in Part 3.

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