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What is Business Leadership? (Part 1)

We often come across the term business leaders when we read or listen to the news. The media would frequently go to “business leaders” to get their opinions not just on economic and business issues but national issues in general. But what does it mean to be a business leader? More importantly, what does it take to become a business leader?


I think this question is very important for one very important reason — business leadership is not just critical to businesses but to the country as well. I have spent 21 years in government, and more years as an entrepreneur so I have had the opportunity to compare. There is no doubt in the ability of politicians to affect the course of the country’s development. The executive and the legislative are in possession of power and authority not available to business leaders to be able to create more impact on the direction our country is taking.

But I also know that we cannot underestimate the impact of business leaders in affecting the prosperity and development of the country. For instance, Filipino business leaders have demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of political instability, economic downturns, natural disasters, and global crises. While we have the Filipino nation to thank for their own resilience and love of country, it cannot be denied that business leaders have, in many occasions, responded to the demands of the times. They have shown the ability to pivot their strategies, innovate, and lead their organizations through turbulent times, thereby ensuring continuity and sustainable growth. Think about the many crises that we have faced as a nation, most recently the pandemic, and you will see that the resilience and adaptability of businesses are essential not only to their success but to the country’s success.

So what is leadership? What does it mean to be a leader? I am not going to reinvent the wheel here and instead look at a very appropriate definition given by the Harvard Business Review in their January 2004 issue:


“Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants. The man who successfully marshals his human collaborators to achieve particular ends is a leader. A great leader is one who can do so day after day, and year after year, in a wide variety of circumstances.”

The first thing that jumps out from this definition is that leaders cannot work alone. The very nature of leadership assumes that you work with other people and that you need the skills to harness the talents of these diverse individuals. A business is like an orchestra conductor who guides a musical ensemble to play each component of the piece together in time. In business, that piece is a vision. In my opinion, that is the most important skill of a leader: to come up with a clear vision and communicate it effectively to everyone. 

When I started in the real estate business after an OFW family entrusted to me their hard-earned money to build their dream house I knew what I wanted to achieve. My vision was clear—to build homes for every Filipino. Sometimes, that is the problem of some of our young people. I think they are passionate and intelligent but in some instances they are unsure of what they want to do in life. And it is a difficult decision because there are many factors to consider. Do I follow what my parents want? Do I go to an industry that will make me the most money? These are important questions. But my answer to these queries was clear—I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I wanted a business that I can build from the ground up. I wanted a business that will focus on helping Filipinos build their dream houses.




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar