Leaders Who Listen


Take a moment and think of a leader you admire. Focus on how he/she interacts with their audience.

Does the leader listen and provide undivided attention? Or, does the leader at times cut off the other person in the middle of conversation?

Not to take any sides in politics, but former President Bill Clinton has the gift of captivating the attention of the person he is talking to by looking at the person intently like no one else is around them. By doing this, he makes the person feel special.

As Stephen Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I personally have done this many times; I listened to respond, instead of listening to learn. As I became aware of my mistakes, I put an effort to listen carefully. At that point, I learned that I was indeed listening, but not understanding, when I experienced that I failed to remember some of the points that were discussed.

I decided to understand the different barriers to listening to help me avoid them: distractions, for example, such as anyone doing something and making noises; emotions that affect effectiveness; inattentiveness; and lack of clarity. By understanding these barriers, I’m able to focus.

A leader listens to receive, retain, process and translate the message. You’ll notice that great leaders are good listeners because they are not afraid to repeat what they heard to ask for confirmation. They also look into non-communication forms like facial expressions, gestures, and body language to get a complete picture.

How Does A Leader Demonstrate Effective Listening?

A leader:

  1. Always maintains eye contact (most important).
  2. Uses body language to demonstrate that he/she understands what is being communicated by nodding.
  3. Asking questions to clarify the points.
  4. Repeating the message to receive confirmation.

To be a good leader, one must master the art of listening. By developing this skill, over time you’ll slowly head in the right direction.

Let me know your thoughts on my post. Do you agree? If you don’t, please share your thoughts.

Tell me about a time when listening impacted you!

No. 1 – Burning Desire with Definite Plan


I’m an avid golf fan and during Tiger Woods prime years 2002-2008, I was amazed by his discipline, training and mental toughness that enabled him to stay on top for a long time. He revolutionized golf by incorporating physical training as a big part of it. Before Tiger joined the PGA, it was not common to see chiseled men playing golf, in fact it was the opposite, big men with protruding bellies playing golf. Tiger had three major impacts on golf: 1) Integration of fitness as a daily regime, 2) Increase in prize money, and lastly 3) Increase in fan base, as more young people started to think that golf is cool.

When Tiger was young, he set a goal that he wanted to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors. He still has a long way to go, having won 14 by age 40, but he has won more tournaments than any active golfers out there. Back then, setting that goal and articulating it was a bold statement. Many people might have wondered who he was and if he could be out of his mind. Because he has a burning desire and a definite plan to succeed, coupled with the fact that he surrounded himself with people that were there to help him along the way, he was able to make progress and make an impact in the sport he loved.

On September 20th, 2015, Jason Day supplanted Rory McIlroy as World No. 1 golfer. Jason Day started golf at 13, which is too late for modern golf standards when kids are starting at 2, 4 or 6 years old. Tiger Woods was his idol. When he was 20 years old, he talked about his desire to overtake Tiger Woods. In 2007, Tiger was at his prime. Because of Jason’s statement, he suffered some backlash when people questioned his capability to achieve such lofty goal. He spoke to his coach and asked what he said that was wrong. Jason was really upset.

What people don’t know is that Jason’s burning desire is intense to be the world’s number-one golfer. He also had a definite plan. He surrounded himself with people like long-time coach and caddie Colin Swatton. His plan consisted of four categories: technical, tactical, physical and mental. Mental was the last stage. This year he had a couple of close calls at Saint Andrews. Over the last three months, he finally gained mastery of the mental aspect of his game and that started a series of wins, including the PGA and subsequently two Fedex cup tournaments by a large margin. The plan called for being number one at age 22, however he made it at 27. What’s the lesson to be learned?

  1. Do not deviate from your plan – if you’re making progress. It might take a long time to get there, but each step is part of the overall journey.
  2. Continue to believe in yourself – no one knows you better than you do, so if you believe you can do it, prove everyone wrong and make it happen.
  3. Don’t be afraid – declare your plan and challenge yourself to get it done. When people know your plan, you have nowhere else to go, but prove to them that you can get it done.
  4. The right people – choose the right people to be on your team who have your best interest at heart. Do not let other people use you. Make sure you trust your people to have your best interest at heart.
  5. Patience – we all want to achieve our dream yesterday. We can’t wait to make it happen, but it does not work that way. It will came when the time is right. You need to be persistent and make it happen.
  6. Winning mindset – you need to have a winning mindset. Yes, you cannot win them all, but you cannot go out there and play for the sake of playing. Just like my daughter’s golf Coach Jun Espiritu always said, “Practicing is not about hitting many balls. It’s about making the most of each shot. Imagine each ball is costing your dad 20 cents. Each time you hit the ball without going through your routine, it’s like throwing away 20 cents at a time. Are you willing to throw away your dad’s money?” Since then our driving range practice consists of 68 balls (medium bucket).


Everyone has dreams. The difference between those who make it and those who don’t is the burning desire and having a definite plan coupled with the discipline to make it happen. I find Napoleon Hill’s quote appropriate, “Success requires no explanations; failure requires no alibis.” When we dream and don’t do the work, we have no one else to look to for the result. As long as you work on your plan and be persistent, you will eventually achieve your goal. Throughout your journey, you will be tested. It depends on your courage and determination to see your dream through. Decide what is important to you and dig deep to make it happen.

To close, I’ll leave you with this saying by Napoleon Hill, “If you don’t conquer self, you will be conquered by self.” If you have no discipline, you will never achieve your dream, because your current habit will rule your life.

Big Rocks!


free-bible-studies-online-the-big-rocksEach day we wake up in the morning to go about our life.   The decisions we make invariably will contribute to the outcome of the day.   We go through the day and do things we thought were important to get done for that day.   Hopefully as the day progresses, you’re making progress and able to check things off.

The reality of life is that things are bound to change.   An urgent incoming call can alter your day—unexpected calls from school to name a few. Before you know it you’re doing things that were not on your list when you started your day.   A mad rush to get things done that are not on your list and lo and behold the day is over. The list that you started the day with is what you have at the end of the day. Does that sound familiar? Yes, I felt that way in the recent past.

Many people demand our time.   Unless we know our priorities, we can get sucked into other people’s demand of our time. The more we offer, the more people take more of our time. In this world, there are givers that give all the time and takers that do nothing but take from everyone around them.   I’ve fallen victim to people demanding my time and I end up working on things that do not add any value or help me achieve my goal.

Until one day, I decided enough is enough.   I need to do things that contribute to my big rocks. The big rocks are things that matter to me the most, like my family, my dream, my aspiration and passion.   The day I put my foot down is the day I felt I’ve made progress with my life. By no means have I turned the corner and become fully independent, but I do say “NO” when I have to.

So, how did I do it? I start my day by imagining my dream.   As my mentor Paul Martinelli says, “Hold your image.”  I hold the image of my dream and let that set for a moment. Let it inspire me to be more aware of what I do and the decisions I make. Understand that each decision made either brings me closer to my dream or pushes me back a step or two. Bring my big rocks front end center, this way I am conscious about it.   Believe me it did not happen overnight. It took days, weeks, and months, until I mustered the courage to say “NO” to people. At times, no is not the answer, but rather disrupting you now, when later can I do the work for others.

It took a lot of time to get to where I need to be, but I feel that the progress made has made me more conscious of the choices I made and how I can influence my progress to get to where I need to be.

Big rocks…remember your big rocks. Hold that image each day and make it stick.   Be conscious of your decisions and make sure that you are working toward achieving your dream.   If you are aware of your priorities, it makes making decision easier.

Are you ready to focus on your big rocks? What would you do differently tomorrow? How can I challenge you to take your first step?

The Joy of Coaching


CoachingI had the privilege of coaching people to advance their career and attain certain fulfillment and the satisfaction, as well, of coaching my daughter’s 3rd and 4th and later 5th and 6th grades basketball team.   On both fronts, the satisfaction is in seeing people grow and develop while keeping their joy of learning.

The greatest reward as a coach is to be able to motivate your team to achieve goals they otherwise think they cannot achieve.   To give them the extra push in challenging times that enables them to overcome the obstacle.   Ultimately as a coach I learned something new throughout the journey about my players. That same is true for my executive coaching.   When your client overcomes an obstacle or becomes unstuck, that’s a win for you as well.

While anyone can say that they’re coaching, saying you’re a coach is not same as acting and conducting yourself like one.   Based on my experience, a great coach has the following characteristics:

They focus on YOU – the focus of the coach is you and your development.

“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”John Wooden

Challenge you – they challenge you to overcome things you otherwise thought you couldn’t achieve.   In challenging times, they help you transition from having distractive thoughts to creating constructive thoughts that enable you to move forward.

Good communicator – communication is the key to a successful coach. They’re able to communicate in good times and challenging times as well. They always find ways to come up with the right choice of words to encourage their people.

Has a philosophy – They have a belief and principles.   In my case, I always emphasize learning fundamentals and the value of sportsmanship, team work and hard work.

Discipline – Discipline is the foundation of any successful undertaking. Without discipline you cannot be successful.   You need discipline to help you focus on the overall goal.

Understand their people – It is easy to push your team, but failure to understand your team will lead to frustration and result in eventual failure. A good coach takes the time to learn and understand their people.   They know when to push and hold back and nurture their team.

Aim to serve – Coaching is a service. To succeed, a coach must aim to serve their constituents and be there for them.   Their unselfish attitude will ensure that their constituents’ best interest is always front and center.

analazing market situationIn my experience, the biggest difference between sport coaching and executive coaching is in client confidentiality.     In executive coaching, you need to uphold client confidentiality. It is job one.   Both bring joy to the practitioner and often provide lifelong learning as their relationship progresses over time.

Coaching is a blessing – a blessing to touch people’s hearts and develop them and see them grow.   I’m thankful for the opportunity to make a difference.


“The test of a good coach is that when they leave, others will carry on successfully.”   Author Unknown

Giving Back – Developing Leaders by being intentional

JMT in Cebu

Prior to my recent trip to the Philippines to attend a family reunion and my father-in-law’s 88th birthday, there was a span of two months in which I was really busy with something that I’m passionate about. I’m doing the John Maxwell certification. Part of the program was teaching the Mastermind group. During the two month period, I taught two Mastermind groups about the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. For some reason, I was energized to teach the class after a long day at work. I believe that I finally found what I want to do in life. That is to teach and coach people on how to be better leaders and positivity in life.

For over 15 year now, I’ve been an avid follower of John Maxwell. I learned a lot from his teaching. In addition to John’s teaching, my earliest influence in leadership was my father. He was a great leader who led by example. I learned a lot by observing him, particularly how he interacted with people around him. I learned that leaders sacrifice more to help others grow and develop. He inspired me to be a better person and I eventually became a better leader to those who work with me. My leadership journey continues in my quest to become a better person and leader and help develop others along the way.

Before I left for vacation, I decided to offer a free Mastermind program on the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I reached out to my niece and sister-in-law. They helped me secure a place and we also provided refreshments and snacks. The seminar was open to 30 people. Before I arrived, the seminar was fully booked. I was so excited to share John Maxwell’s teaching to others.

On the way to the event, I was anxious. I was confident with the material because I’ve taught two video casts of this topic for six-weeks each. But there were still butterflies in my stomach. Thankfully within 15 minutes after I started the session, I was at ease. I kept the participants engaged through table discussion and sharing of insight. We had a great time learning from one another. The morning session went by really fast. During lunch I was focused on coming up with ways to engage the team because people tend to be sleepy in the afternoon and that is the time you lose your audience. Fortunately I was able to keep them engaged. Before you know it the event ended already. The event was attended by some relatives, business folks and school representatives. The school representatives of Gothong High School were very engaged in the discussion. We had a healthy dialogue and I learned about them. At the end of the event, I gave away three copies of the book that I co-authored, The Character Based-Leader.

Giving back to the community can be done in many ways. Developing community leaders is by far the most effective way of giving back to your community. When you develop leaders, they in turn will develop other leaders in the community. Developing leaders has a multiplying effect, thereby increasing your reach. I told the participants that I expect them to take three things from the seminar and implement it in their daily life. I urged them to create a growth plan, execute and track their progress. Create a do-not-do list – a list of thing they should stop doing. By stopping those things like doubting themselves, they would be better already. Sometimes we are the worst critics of ourselves and we can be really hard on ourselves, and that starts affecting our confidence and ability.

I look to this experience with joy and appreciation. I thank God for the gift that He gave me to touch people’s hearts.

Dealing with rejection

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

pinky promisedMy so-called baby in the house will turn 8 in August.  This little spark plug is the life of our house.  She makes all the sounds that filled our house and energize the house day in and day out.

Last year she tried out for the town travelling team and made it to the U8 soccer team.  She was excited about the opportunity.  By all accounts she enjoyed the first half of the season playing left forward and even scored the winning goal for their first win of the season.  The win was a come-from-behind win.  I was so proud of the team because they fell behind quickly, down 0-2, and came from behind to win 3-2.

During the second half of the season, the coach decided to shuffle things up.  She started playing defense, but did not know what to do.  There were numerous games she came home lamenting that she did not know what to do.   I do understand and support the coach’s decision to play her on defense, because I believe that will allow her to be well rounded.   But without the proper instructions, it will really frustrate the child as they cannot cope with the situation.

As the season was about to end, all the players needed to try out for the next season.   Due to her piano recital she was able to attend one of the two tryout sessions.   But she was confident that she made the B team as there won’t be an A team this coming season.  She told me that she would definitely be in one of the two B teams.  As a parent, we saw her play and believed that she would make the B team.

When the tryout results came out, she was assigned to the C team, which was the developmental team.  That night I could not sleep as I had to figure out the best way to break the news to her.   I’ve done performance review discussions many times delivering bad news, but for some reason this was tougher.  When I broke the news to her, she cried her heart out.  She asked why she was on the C team.  I told her that sometimes in life we don’t get what we want.   I made her promise not to quit and get back in the saddle and get the job done.  A pinky promise made between a daddy and Maddy to encourage her to continue this journey.  I told her that she needs prove to those who doubt her that she is capable of making the upper level team.

As I talked to her, I focused on the following:

1)   Success – described her goal that won the 1st game of the season.  I want her to know that she is capable of getting the job done.

2)   You don’t get what you want at times – it is important that she learn the lesson that sometimes we don’t get what we want.  We can say life is not fair, but it does not mean that we should give up.

3)   Continue to work hard – the approach to life is 100% or nothing.   Either you put everything on the line or you don’t do it.  There is no shortcut and slowdown. If you want something, you need to put in the time effort and commitment to get the job done.

4)   Being honest with her – telling her the true situation versus sugar coating it.  I told her that the C team is a developmental team.  It is best that she knows that now, because she would notice that when the season started.   There was no point hiding the truth from her.  However, it is important to encourage her to take this as an opportunity to demonstrate her capabilities.

5)   Give her the time to deal with it – provide a supportive environment and give her the time to deal with the situation, but talk to her and let her tell you what’s on her mind.  It might take days, months to get through it, but we’re committed to be there for her.

It will be a long summer before the soccer season starts.   She has a year to prove her capability.  We talked about making a commitment and making the most of the opportunity.  I’m sure this lesson will make her stronger and will serve her well.   The future will be bright.   Torpedoes Black team, here comes Maddy!

Coach as a role model

Will Lukang, PMP, CLDC, CSM


It has been few months since I last coached the SES 4th grade girls’ basketball team.  I look back to this experience of being a head coach as a gift.   I was not supposed to be the head coach, but since no one volunteered to be the head coach I was asked to volunteer.   I’m glad that I did it and will remember it for a long time.

In recent months, there were a couple incidents that occurred that make me wonder what is going on in amateur sports, not to mention professional sports.  As I read the news on May 6th, 2 (two) news items caught my attention.  The first one was that a Florida water polo sore loser used a handshake line to push his opponent into the water.  The second was a goalie at a recreational league that sucker punched the referee for issuing him a yellow card.   What’s going in the amateur sports world?  What went wrong?  As I examine this issue, I can’t help but rest some of the responsibilities on the shoulders of the coaches.   Some of the coaches do not show enough respect for the referees.  Therefore the athletes see that behavior and do the same thing.  I’ve often seen coaches yelling and arguing with the referees.   Another aspect of this is the parents; sometimes they end up in a shouting match with other parents from the opposing team or worse yet against the coaches.

In my opinion, the buck stops with the coach. Here are some of the things that a coach can do:

1)    Coaches should conduct themselves accordingly.  Whether they like it or not, they are role models.  Therefore they should also hold themselves to the same standard.   As a coach, you need to lead by example and conduct yourself with integrity at all times.

2)    Coaches should engage the parents early on and set the ground rules on how you want them to conduct themselves.   Advise parents to not interfere with the game, however, they should cheer and encourage the players for their effort.

3)    Parents play an important role in development of the athletes, so try to involve the parents throughout the season.  Parents must show good sportsmanship and respect to the coaches, players and referees.

4)    Meet with the players and establish ground rules.   Emphasize that respecting coaches, referees and parents is mandatory and by no means should they answer back or yell back at them.

5)    Hold players accountable for their actions.  If they violated the code of conduct, the coach must meet with the player and parent concerned to discuss the matter and address it accordingly.

Coaches play an important role in shaping the behavior of their players.  Therefore if we want to address the issue of violence and lack of sportsmanship, it has to start from the coaching staff.    Holding the parents and players accountable for their actions will only help improve the current state of the game.

As a coach myself, my philosophy is all about the love of the game and teaching the players how the lessons in sports can be applied to their lives.  Win or lose, I expect their best effort in each practice and in each game.   I want them to always respect the coaches, parents and referees at all times.  I want them to learn from their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and take pride in their part in the success of the team.