“Our main mission was to clear Marawi City at the soonest possible time. We were aware that there were more than 221,000 people living in the evacuation centers who wanted to return to the comfort of their own homes. The faster we liberate Marawi City, the sooner they can go home.” — Lt Gen Carlito Galvez Jr
Flexibility and Adaptability
A military leader has to mix and match different leadership styles in order to adapt to the changing and complex conditions on the ground. In this case, as it was unusual for the military to operate in an urban terrain, the situation called for the immediate adaptation of our capabilities, strategies, and timely innovations to confront this type of warfare.
Commanders would often visit the battlefield to personally assess the actual situation on the ground. A key trait also manifested in this scenario was the openness of our commanders to the insights and ideas from the field units visited. Commanders presented themselves with humility, open-mindedness, and were very receptive of other suggestions.
Being a consensus leader takes patience, good listening skills, effort, and the art of negotiating. A leader balances and harmonizes conflicting perspectives and fine-tunes them to suit the purpose. A leader sums them all up and leads the charge towards the objective of their mission.
Communication and Strong Influence
A good leader is also a good influencer and a good communicator with his/her subordinates. This was very evident in the Philippine Army. He/she puts a premium on the manner by which his/her orders are cascaded from the top all the way down to the lowest foot soldier. He/she makes sure that each directive is understood, the rationale behind the operation explained, the role of each participant delineated, and that an overall effort is necessary for achieving success.
As Army leaders, we also showed empathy with our troops. The frequent visits and boodle fights of our leaders with all the units involved in the operation boosted our troops’ morale. The treats and care packages that they brought with them as they visited the troops showed how much they cared. We patiently listened to their concerns and commiserated with their losses. Taking the time to be with them, while they were isolated from their families and loved ones, motivated all of us to make sacrifices.
Trust and Confidence
Good leaders inspire faith in their ability to lead while harmonizing their relationships with their subordinates. A lack of belief in one’s ability to do his/her job could prove harmful to the functioning of the unit and may consequently undermine accomplishment of the mission. Our military commanders did not hesitate to pass on leadership to those qualified in the chain of command to do so. Many of us felt empowered and rose to the challenge of the newly acquired leadership roles.
Moral strength and perseverance was not lacking in our Army leadership. Our leaders never showed fear despite the difficulties that they encountered. Many of them took to the frontlines like the late Cpt Sandoval who laid down his life in service of the country.
Unity and teamwork were always stressed by the leadership no matter how menial the tasks were. We never felt we were alone. JTF Marawi’s guidance always reached the lowest foot soldier. We forged strong partnerships and coordination with other AFP units, the PNP, and the PCG and most especially, with the Local Chief Executives (LCEs) and their communities. A mutual respect in a socio-cultural context was the key to collaboration and partnership with the affected community and the Filipino nation.
This entry is part of Book 1: Leading from the Heart.)