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Mike Macapagal

  • Programme: Essentials of Leadership
  • Nationality: Filipino
  • Job Post-programme: Head of Human Resources Japan Tobacco International

Focus on self-development

I’ve always thought of myself as a good manager, but in the past I have let organisational profit be the determining factor in my behaviour and decision making. My HR strategies have been grounded in logic  and consistent with company objectives. Despite this, members of my team have not always performed to their full capabilities. After one of my senior managers told me that I was managing well but not actually leading, I realised that I needed to spend some time reflecting on and improving my leadership capabilities.

The Essentials of Leadership (EoL) programme was first recommended to me by my company. The curriculum was much more substantial than some of the other courses I considered and the duration – 5 days – also fitted with my schedule. Right from the start, the depth of insight offered by both professors and participants surprised me. It is the only programme I’ve attended where everybody got involved, and the faculty made a real effort to facilitate this. Hearing opinions from people in different industries, across different seniority levels and from different nationalities created an extremely open and effective learning environment. Currently there are plans in place to move me to an international assignment – I’ve never worked outside the Philippines before, but I know the exposure I’ve had to such a multicultural participant base on EOL will help me.

Changing my behaviour

EOL changed my whole perspective on leadership, and the way I conduct myself with my team. Learning how to control my initial reactions to a situation and to pause and think before I react has made a real difference to my day-to-day management style. Understanding that I have a wide range of behavioural choices also means that I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve so much anymore. Changing my behaviour was uncomfortable, but as Professor Dan Cable said in class, eventually things that are uncomfortable become second nature.

I’ve worked with many of my staff for a long time now and I had become more used to criticising than praising them. Since completing the programme I’ve made a much greater effort to recognise achievement and my staff are definitely appreciating the difference.

Inspiring others

At a wider organisational level, EOL has also had a profound impact on the way we do business. JT International is still at a start-up stage in the Philippines, so it’s easy for managers to focus too much on their tasks, forgetting that we achieve our business objectives through the people that work for us. Part of my role involves travelling around the country talking to our sales staff and managers. I’m constantly echoing the learning I got from the programme and encouraging other leaders to care more about their teams.

I want to be the type of leader who can inspire others. The job of a leader is not just to carry people along, but to tell them what their objectives are, why they are important, then acquire their commitment and let them go forward under their own impetus. Understanding this, and changing our company culture to reflect this, ultimately means we will have more engaged employees – the very people who are responsible for delivering the bottom line.