Measuring Leni’s leadership competencies (1) | Inquirer Opinion
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Measuring Leni’s leadership competencies (1)

The term “glass cliff,” according to Investopedia, refers to a situation in which women are promoted to higher positions during times of crisis or duress, or during a recession when the chance of failure is more likely. The metaphor of the glass cliff is that women in this position are at risk of falling off a cliff and failing.

It was coined in 2004 by University of Exeter researchers Ryan, Ashby, and Haslam, who studied 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalization, and found that companies that appointed women to their boards were more likely to have performed poorly in the preceding five months. The same researchers followed up this study with another involving law students, where they also found that while male candidates were just as likely as females to be selected as lead counsel for low-risk cases, there was a strong preference for females to be appointed to high-risk cases and were typically assigned to cases bound for failure.


Research findings in 2013 in the US (Fortune 500 companies) by Cook and Glass, covering both women and minority leaders, aligned with the glass cliff theory.

The researchers posited reasons, mostly cynical, why women are promoted to more precarious leadership roles than men: the companies didn’t want to risk their most valued males (in case of failure); or it was a win-win for the companies—if she succeeds, the company is better off, and if she fails, the company at least earns a reputation of being progressive.


More recent empirical research (Zenger and Folkman, Garikipati and Kambhampati, Sergent and Stajkovic) found a third reason: that women are in fact more qualified to lead during a crisis (see my previous columns). That is probably why these top companies hand the reins to women when times are tough, although no one wants to admit it. It gives them the best chance to succeed.

But all these hard data, facts, and statistical analyses merely validate what we’ve known all along: When the going gets tough, the women get going.

What does this all have to do with our elections? Isn’t it obvious? The country is facing several crises (the worst situation since World War II), and we’ve got one woman among the many candidates running for president. So that should be enough reason to vote for Vice President Leni Robredo.

But she’s not just any woman. Let’s look at the competencies that every leader should have (ZF), and measure her against them. Not just by her campaign promises but by her actions. Walking the talk, as they say. I leave it to you, Reader, to compare her with your favored candidates.

1. Displays high integrity and honesty. Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Some specific examples that show Leni’s integrity: (a) When she and Jesse got married, her father gave his consent only if she promised to study and finish law. It took her seven or eight years, what with three children. But she did it. She keeps her promises; (b) Jesse asked her to run for mayor when his term was up. She refused. She is against dynasties. She practices what she preaches (Jesse, the great man that he is, acknowledged it); (c) She spent the first nine years of her career as a lawyer in an NGO working for the poor, and with the poor—and she continues to do so up to the present. This shows her commitment to the poor, and to social justice; (d) Her inflation-corrected wealth has not increased during her years of government service—she does not live in a gated community, her small house in Naga or her even smaller condo in Quezon City remain unchanged. Remember the picture of her waiting for a bus to take her to Naga? That says it all. A public servant living up to the constitutional standard of a modest life. No corruption; (e) Finally, the Office of the Vice President received, for the third year in a row, an Unqualified Opinion from the Commission on Audit, which is, despite claims by her opponents to the contrary, the highest rating one can get from the COA. Meaning, the VP spent her budget wisely and well, with no hint of hanky panky.

Just on this one leadership quality—high integrity and honesty—which is foundational, Leni has it all over all the other candidates, particularly the leading one in the surveys. I ask you, Reader: Does her opponent display high integrity and honesty? Please give examples.


(Next week: assessment of the other leadership competencies.)


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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 elections, competencies, glass cliff, leadership qualities, Leni Robredo, women
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