A call for tsinelas leadership
March 17, 2017
Noting the rise of the new world order marked with authoritarianism, polarity, and discontent, Vice President Leonor Robredo expressed confidence in the power of tsinelas (slippers) leadership.
“It has become clear to me that tsinelas leadership is truly the vehicle for empathy and the hope that we so desperately need today,” she said. “That is why local leaders must have ears close to the ground, feet planted in reality, really big hearts and a lot of patience.”
Robredo was at the Ateneo Professional Schools campus in Rockwell, Makati City on March 14, 2017 as the recipient of the 2017 Metrobank Professorial Chair for Public Service and Governance. A joint initiative of the Ateneo Professional Schools and Metrobank Foundation, the award is conferred annually on individuals who have shown outstanding records in public service. In her speech, Robredo paid homage to her late husband, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and his pragmatic leadership. Jesse Robredo, a 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, pioneered the so-called Naga City Governance Model composed of 3 key elements: progressive perspective, partnerships, and people participation.
“For Jesse, it was critical that power was shared with the people,” she said. He would go around the city in “in a bicycle, no bodyguard, wearing shorts, shirt, and slippers.” Her husband’s brand of servant leadership helped him in attending to his constituents.
“If we all allow the concept of tsinelas leadership to guide the way we make policies, we would include rather than exclude— and the manner by which this is to be done successfully will depend on the prevailing circumstances in each locality.”
Robredo also stressed the importance of empathy.
“In my decades of experience as an alternative lawyer, when the poor speakers and lets us into their lives, the window of service can close swiftly,” she said. “Our people are angry at government, but we must approach them only with empathy.” Entering into somebody else’s chaos, she added, would lead to collaboration. This, Robredo said, is the “essence of democracy and engagement.”
“How do we nurture leaders who will lead with empathy and integrity and who will embrace tsinelas leadership?,” Robredo asked.