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Hindi Bagay

“Hindi bagay” is a Filipino phrase that means something “doesn’t match.” And there are few things more out of place, more ill-fitting, more off, more painful to observe, more useless, and more ugly than a leader who is sulking. For my Filipino readers, ang lider na nagtatampo.

Everyone has sulked at least once in his/her life. For some people it’s more becoming than others. Like sometimes when my wife does it to me it’s adorable.

But it’s never adorable when a leader does it. It’s not just ugly and pathetic, it’s twisted and perverted. Perverted  means to corrupt something from the original course

Here’s why: leaders are meant to lead! To fix problems not throw tantrums until they get their way. Leaders are there to make the first move, not play hard to get. Leaders are there to encourage the cowardly, motivate the lazy, and activate the passive.

Sulking is the complete opposite of leadership because it’s cowardly, lazy, and passive. It’s waiting for the other person to initiate the reconciliation. It’s putting our own hurt feelings over the good of the team. It’s resigning from taking responsibility.

We aren’t always in leadership situations. Sometimes we’re followers. But when you’re the leader, don’t resign from your post. When there’s something wrong in the team, do something about it.

Of the five options here, four are for leaders and one is used by toddlers. Which one are you?
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6 comments
  • “Leaders are there to encourage the cowardly, motivate the lazy, and activate the passive.” — enough said! Sadly there are leaders who not only sulk but thrive only on positive feedback and praises, and love to surround themselves with “yes”-men :\ Good leaders lead by serving and welcome feedback from the people they lead or from their team, good or bad 🙂

  • Joseph, please allow me to ask questions. You mean sulking=being a brat? You mean leaders can never or should never opt to be passive in dealing with any matter? You mean leaders cannot wait for others to make the first move? You mean leaders cannot wait for the other party to initiate? What if the case is between two leaders or two organizations or two states? What if the conflict involves serious betrayal? What if the leader is wronged by another leader who holds a great degree of trust? I believe it will help in better understanding, if terms and parameters are clearly defined. Especially if the subject is as important, multifaceted, and culturally and circumstantially relative as leadership.

    • Hi Mark! Thanks for your questions and I appreciate the clarification you’ve brought. Obviously, you’ve got much more experience and wisdom than me in higher level of leadership, especially the ones you’ve described like between organizations and between states. So I’m only commenting on the levels of leadership I’m familiar with. The brevity of the blog did not permit me to examine every nuance like the ones you’ve mentioned so I’m grateful that your comments bring precision.

      I don’t think that doing nothing or waiting for the other person to act is equal to being passive. There really are situations where you’ve done your part and if the other party refuses to participate and there’s nothing more you can do for them. We don’t want to dump our resources into situations that are not worthwhile anymore.

      And in some scenarios, the best option for leaders is to cut ties, like when you mentioned conflict and serious betrayal. I’ve experienced that at work. At first, I tried to reconcile, to correct the person, and to admit my own mistakes in the matter. But when the relationship consistently degenerated with the other party constantly lying and responding vindictively, we had to cut ties and the person left the organization.

      When a leader does that, I don’t think that’s being passive at all. That’s a well-thought out decision being set into motion. It’s just that the decision is to break ties or do nothing for now. But it was the leader’s decision to do that. That isn’t sulking either because it wasn’t motivated by a bad attitude. It was a necessity. I didn’t send the person away wishing them ill. In fact, we helped the person find another working environment. (Making sure though that the new boss was aware of our issues so that they could help them walk out of it. And from what I’ve seen and heard the person’s situation has improved significantly.)

      The Bible gives an example of this mentality at work in church leadership in 1 Corinthians 5. It talks about rebuking and correcting a person who persists in willfully doing wrong. If the person insists on continuing in that path, verse 5 says, “Hand this man over to Satan…” (meaning, let him be. Break ties with him. You can’t make him listen if he doesn’t want to.) But it continues to say, “so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” This shows that even the act of cutting ties, of letting someone continue on their self-destructive path, is motivated by a realistic acknowledgement that the person isn’t listening and a hope that one day they’ll see the error of their ways and change. That’s not sulking.

      Ultimately, sulking is about our attitude not just the actions. Like you said, leadership is multifaceted and culturally and circumstantially relative. One person’s act of reconciliation could be another’s manipulation and powerplay. Sometimes we reconcile, sometimes we correct, sometimes we let it slide, and sometimes we break ties altogether.

      But the motivation and the attitude of our actions is the thing being examined here. Is it an objective, strategic decision or an emotional reaction? Is it from a desire to promote unity and wellness or an uncomprehending impulse to hurt as we’ve been hurt? Is it in service to God and others or a selfish desire to stroke one’s ego?

      I hope I understood your comment correctly and have been able to respond well. Thanks for the feedback! It’s always welcome!

  • Joseph, i guess what prompted by comment was really the definition of sulking as quoted. The definition appears to me as being an emotional state that leaders could actually pass through as they navigate the various issues and relationships. I think what i really want to say is: when as a leader you do feel betrayed, disapponted, and/or wronged it could help and it is ok to be silent and even have some space for ill termper. To completely rule out sulking moments for leaders might to my mind be actually too much to ask for human being leaders. I have been around quite a few and even very good ones have sulking moments. Down time or slack time if you may. Moments that get their spouses and friends to come to the rescue. Then they snap out of it and lead on. That’s the sulking that i wish to defend. Because it happens. Because to my mind it could have some benefit. But being a brat is a completely different matter. Elija, job, and david sulked but they snapped out of it, and they were not bratty. Just sharing my thoughts bro. Thanks for accomodating.

    • No problem, thanks for the discussion! I agree with you that everyone gets into these emotional states from time to time. And I also agree with you that leadership isn’t pretending these moments never happen. Rather it’s being able to keep your head and act rightly even when they do.

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