7 Lessons that Young Leaders Can Learn from Mayor Vico Sotto's COVID-19 Response
Rae Marielle Bayanin
Exposure and mentorship, these are the very ingredients into becoming a young leader of the future generation. With crisis happening left and right, there is no shortage of instances where dreamers can put their leadership skills to the test. But who’s to say which of our leaders of today are fit mentors for future leaders of tomorrow? And with school put on hold, where can an aspiring young leader find an inspiration?
Lucky for the youth, the search is over because we have found a great leader in the form of Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. Here’s a list of what we can learn from Vico’s own brand of leadership.
1. Planning and preparation
A leader must be able to anticipate the worst and prepare for it. The challenge? There is no single worst case scenario for every situation. It’s also not just the plan that has to be ready, resources have to be prepared, too.
On February 2, Mayor Sotto had already visited Pasig City General Hospital’s (PCGH) ER to see if they were prepared, and indeed they were. PCGH had set up a “Triage Algorithm of Patients with Suspected nCoV Infection” and a week before the quarantine, Vico gathered his frontliners for RED training to discuss the who, what, when, and hows of the city's response to COVID-19.
As a leader, your leadership will be challenged by things that spread like a virus: rumors and fake news. And like a virus, it’s hard to pin down and even harder to find a cure. But as leaders, it’s also your job to stand firm on the truth.
Mayor Sotto has a knack for myth-busting. He constantly verifies information before he disseminates it and he always encourages people to do the same. He’s also known for calling out rumors that stirred panic amongst the people. Here is a leader who uses his voice for the truth. We appreciate a mayor who promotes literacy and validation of correct information.
3. Transparency and communication
Leaders must be able to earn the trust of the people that they serve. Otherwise, there will be a rise of social unrest. Part of dealing with what we fear is facing it, and this is what exactly Mayor Sotto has done for Pasig amidst the COVID-19 situation.
He constantly updates the Pasigueños of what the LGU’s plans were. He made sure that his people could reach him and report information that needed his attention. Whether it was through his series of raw FB live videos or his lengthy social media posts, he responded to the loud outcry of the people he swore to serve. No big words, no misleading statements, just facts.
Young leaders must not fall into the trap of making big promises without any follow through. Promising doesn’t mean a thing if no inspired action is being done to make a difference.
In an interview with ANC long before he was elected, Mayor Sotto assured the public that he would allocate a large sum of Pasig’s funding on healthcare and that he would resist corruption. True enough, his words are true. In his first 6 months, Pasig saved 150M. And now more than ever, Pasig is reaping the benefit of the extra healthcare budget allocated by its young Mayor.
Pasig mayoral bet Vico Sotto plans to allocate almost a quarter of the city's P10.7 billion budget to localized healthcare system and reduce infrastructure spending should he win in #Halalan2019. #ANCHeadstart pic.twitter.com/irZeV2zoXp— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) April 3, 2019
When you’re dealing with a crisis that you never thought you’d face, smart and concise decisions have to be made, and they have to be made fast.
From fire trucks to drones, Mayor Sotto saw to it that public places were properly sanitized and disinfected. He brought the mobile palengke to the communities within Pasig so they need not leave their barangays. He made use of various modes of transportation to get the frontliners to where they needed to be. Now, that’s what we call being creative with the power that he already has!
Upang mabawasan ang dami ng tao sa Pasig Mega Market at mga talipala, inilunsad namin ang MOBILE PALENGKE.— Vico Sotto (@VicoSotto) March 24, 2020
Presyong palengke, mas malapit sa mamimili, at tulong na rin sa mga maninindang Pasigueño.
(Sa Pasig PIO FB ipo-post ang schedule ng 5 Mobile Palengke.)#SocialDistancing pic.twitter.com/oKb9iVmktx
Leaders naturally take on the biggest responsibility, but at a time like today, management of the people’s fears is far too difficult for just one person to take on. Mayor Sotto understood this which is why he used the divide and conquer tactic: he delegated and supported his constituents.
He ensured the public that Pasig was not working independently, acknowledging that the public health situation called for health protocols and guidelines from the real pros (i.e. DOH, WHO, other Metro Manila city Mayors, etc.) He made sure to work closely with and get the buy-in of PNP and soldiers assigned in Pasig before he made a decision. He also does not take full credit to ideas that he and his team implements. And he made sure that the designated parties all get the recognition that they deserved.
In times of crisis, the public is likely to be caught off guard and get paralyzed, much like what’s happening right now. Public transportation is canceled and businesses are not operating like they did before so people look to their leaders for the next step to take.
The way Mayor Sotto responded to the Pasigueños blow by blow was a sight to watch. No transportation? LGU’s gotchu. Unable to buy food and other essentials? Do not fear, the food packs are here. Drivers out of business? 3k for you!