For Whom the Bell Tolls: Defensor’s Hemingway Solution to MIWD vacuum

17 Dec

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams

By Alex P. Vidal

ILOILO Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.’s use of authority and influence to arrest the impending vacuum at the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) Board of Directors can be called as the Hemingway Solution.
Defensor has installed Dr. Teodoro Robles and Architect Ramon Victor Singson as new members of the MIWD board.
Robles, president of the Central Philippine University (CPU), will represent the academe sector, while Singson of the Rotary Club of La Paz, will represent the civic sector.
The appointment came in the heels of the resignations of Engr. Adrian Moncada and Bernadette Castellano.
The duo informed Defensor in a letter dated November 28, 2014 that they will serve the MIWD only until December 31, 2014.
Moncada represented the professional sector, while Castellano represented the women sector.
Their terms should have expired on December 31, 2016.
Robles, who will replace MIWD Chairman of the Board, Dr. Danilo Encarnacion, and Singson, who will replace Dr. Sergio Gonzalez, will officially join the water utility family on January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2020.
Encarnacion’s and Gonzalez’s terms will expire on December 31, 2014.
Defensor will fill up the posts vacated by Moncada and Castellano from the list of nominees to be submitted by Corporate Secretary Cyril Regalado.
It has always been the dilemma every leader faces at one time or another whether to use authority or influence in directing an organization.


As appointing official, Defensor’s authority gives him power to force change, to set goals for an organization or standards of performance, and demand that they be met.
Influence gives Defensor power in a different way.
Time magazine highlights the difference between authority and influence: “To have influence is to gain assent, not just obedience; to attract a following not just an entourage; to have imitators, not just subordinates.”
Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is a classic that better demonstrates the difference between authority and influence.
It is a product of Hemingway’s interest and involvement in the Spanish Civil War.
The book focuses on man’s fate as he faces the difficult problems of living in the Industrial Era.
It closely scrutinizes the dramatic human issues of turning around a troubled organization like the MIWD, enabling leaders to understand better the differences between authority and influence, two of the most important tools of the leader.


As a leadership strategy, Defensor’s influence requires a willingness to guide–not command–employees.
It takes times and patience in the case of the MIWD.
It involves the nurturing of an organizational culture in which employees are the initiators of change because they see the need for it.
Influence empowers employees and in the process, empowers the organization.
“I will not be pressured. Arthur Defensor cannot be bought. I will appoint people whom we believe will serve to the welfare and development of the city and province of Iloilo,” the governor had vowed.
“Nobody can dictate me on what to do. Even the President, if I believe that he is wrong, I will not follow him.”

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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in POLITICS


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