Understanding the Role of Culture in Effective Leadership The

University Communication and Public Relations Office
Understanding the Role of Culture in Effective Leadership
The seminar entitled “Understanding the Role of Culture in Effective Leadership” took place last 27 and 28 November
2012 at the Ateneo Professional Schools Rockwell Campus. Organized by the Embassy of France to the Philippines and
the Ateneo de Manila University, the conference provided the venue to discuss the leadership and organizational issues
that occur in the management and understanding of different cultures. The conference was done with the support of
Fonds d’Alembert, a program of Institut Français which aims to promote intellectual discourse between French experts
and their local counterparts.
The event was opened by Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, president of the Ateneo, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres SJ, former Ateneo
president, and French Ambassador Gilles Garachon during the welcome cocktails held last 26 November 2012. Among
the attendees of the welcome cocktails were Postmaster General Josefina dela Cruz, Lamoiyan Corporation president
Cecilio Pedro, Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepena, and National Defense College of the Philippines
president Dr. Fermin De Leon, who stood as the representative of Department of National Defense secretary Voltaire
Gazmin. Also present were the French Embassy’s Counselor for Cultural Affairs Christian Merer, French Chamber of
Commerce president Cyril Rocke, and the two conference speakers, Dr. Sophie Boisseau du Rocher and Prof. Jean-Pierre
A short statement from the French Cultural Counselor Christian Merer formally opened the conference proper the next
day, and was followed by presentations from the two visiting speakers. The first lecture of the conference presented by
Dr. Sophie Boisseau du Rocher discussed the challenges to nation-building as experienced by both France and the
Philippines, and underscored the need for education and leadership to pass on a “nation-building” impulse through
culture that will inspire a country’s citizens to help in its development.
Prof. Jean-Pierre Ségal continued the series as he gave an overview of the issues present when Western management
styles encounter Asian cultures, and explained how they can be overcome by a willingness to cooperate and by espousing
a consciousness and acceptance of the differing cultures found in the workplace.
The lectures were followed by a panel discussion headed by Postmaster General Hon. Josefina dela Cruz, JG Summit
Holdings Inc. CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei and French Chamber of Commerce president Cyril Rocke. Reacting to the
morning’s presentations, Mr. Gokongwei stressed the importance of education in a nation’s progress while Mr. Rocke
highlighted that improving the government bureaucracy will go a long way towards Philippine nation-building.
Postmaster General dela Cruz proposed that more than a change in leaders, the Philippines needs a change of culture.
The conference was synthesized through roundtable discussions participated in by Ateneo’s doctoral students in
leadership studies. Two groups were formed to tackle the topics of “From vision to results” and “Balancing relationships
and performance.” Recalling the morning’s session, the first group provided a fruitful discussion on the interplay
between vision, leadership, and culture. Using Philippine governance as a backdrop, the participants concluded that a
change in culture must take place for a change in structure to occur while transactional and translational leadership must
provide the vision and direction for action to take place through structures and metrics. The second group discussed how
different cultural approaches to relationships can impede professional performance and how training can resolve the
conflicts that may arise from this issue.
Fr. Nebres formally closed the conference by stressing the various models of leadership and the need to analyze and
understand how it is conducted relative to the country’s context. He ended his message by saying that leadership in the
Philippines is best carried out not solely with rationality, but with a consideration of one’s emotions and culture.
The last day of the seminar was dedicated to discussions among the speakers and the students on the ideas presented
during the conference proper, where the students are expected to write up the proceedings of the conference.
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