Crying and Leading

I just had to take a break from work to share some thoughts on the tragedy that happened in Zamboanga recently.  An ex-convict ran amok in a small school wherein he killed several people, including a young teacher.  As a former teacher, I was affected by the incident.

Ferdie, a teacher-friend, and I had an exchange of tweets about it.  It was senseless and unfortunate. We were distraught of the thought that the victim who was inside her classroom could have been us or some of our closest friends.

Ms. Lorna Pulalon, 27, was the breadwinner of her family.  She just recently transferred to that school. She tried to protect her students by shielding them from the killer. And she was stabbed to death.  She didn’t have to do that.  She could have just run outside. But, her love for her students was more important than her life.

What struck me too was how the Department of Education addressed the issue.  The heads of the department went to Zamboanga immediately to be with the family and provide assistance.  Moreover, when Sec. Luistro visited the families, he shed to tears.

In a large bureaucratic organization like DepEd, it is normal that the leaders would not be able to meet their members because of the breadth of their scope.  Knowing that there are tons to fix the education system in the country, I can imagine the workload of the leaders of the dept.

However, their act of immediately responding and being with the bereaved is laudable. To cancel appointments and schedules so that they would make way to go to the South clearly shows that the leaders are serious in taking care of their people, elementary school teachers for this case.  More than the media mileage they would gain from this, it sends the message to all teachers that their leaders are serious in their welfare.

In addition, the head breaking down to tears brings the leader closer to his people.  The humanity was needed to console the public, especially with the Filipino culture. Filipinos relate more to their leaders who show sympathy and emotion and who ‘suffer with’ them.

Running a large organization is a tremendous job for anyone especially when there is pressure to perform.  It may often suck the energy out of a leader, who is focused in meeting the goals and output of the mandate.  But, the leader also needs to inspire his people for them to own his vision and goals.  And just the mere presence of the leader in crisis moments provides the anchor for his members.

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