By Jay Ledesma

The 4-Way Test

I REMEMBER a story shared by my high school teacher about a father, a son, and a pony. One day, the father eagerly put his son on the pony as he was bringing him to the town plaza. On their way, they noticed their neighbors were looking at them saying “look at that boy, he’s younger and stronger yet he’s he’s the one riding the pony while his father walks”. Upon hearing this, the boy got off the pony and let his father ride instead. Just after a few minutes, they heard some of the neighbors mumbling again thus time about the father. “Shame on that father! He’s enjoying himself on the pony instead of allowing his son to experience the joy of a pony ride”. Hearing this, the father decided that both of them will just ride on the pony. But their neighbors, upon seeing this, shouted at them. “Don’t you have pity on the pony? Having to carry both of you is too much!”

So the father and son got off and just walked with the pony. Just when they thought their neighbors approved their action, they heard someone saying, “Look at these fools, they have their pony which they can ride on but they are walking”. The father and son just looked at each other, helplessly.

The lesson of the story -- you can never please everybody! Whatever decisions or actions you take, there will always be people who will agree with you and there will always be those who won’t.

This is one leadership reality that I learned and embraced. And that made me manage my stress and keep my sanity throughout the years of being a leader.

Now more than ever, leaders should be reminded of this. We live and lead in a time when there’s a lot of changes... when we have to introduce new rules, new systems, new ways of doing things. And no matter how good our program plans, actions and intentions are, we will always have our supporters and our own set of bashers.

If our plans and intentions are good then why can’t we please everybody? Because we just can’t.

We lead people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, interests, motives, agenda, and beliefs. If your rule serves my purpose then you please me but that same rule will displease someone with a different purpose.

As leaders, decision making is our staple responsibility. It can be as minor as meeting agenda to as major as making policies. Whenever I am asked how I make “major decisions” knowing there will be parties that might not be pleased, I share to them my own 4 Way Test (ala Rotary).

1. Do I believe in what needs to be achieved?

Every decision starts with a purpose. I need to be clear on what I am trying to achieve and I must firmly believe on the WHY behind my decision. This helps strengthen my resolve to stick to and act on my decisions despite objections and resistance from the non supporters. I have to be confident that I can “defend” it in any court.

2. Is it the right and the best thing to do?

As time allows it, I would usually consider all possible options and the pros and cons of each, before making the final decision. Though I know that the buck stops at me, I believe in involving and engaging the critical members of my team in brainstorming especially for major decisions. I usually bounce my ideas to 1-2 of my senior staff for critique and feedback. I do this to ensure that I hear different perspectives and that all grounds are covered. This way I know that we are not only doing the right but also the best option.

3. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

A good decision should benefit all the stakeholders concerned. As a leader, I believe that when making decisions, I should consider the interests of the organization, of the people am working with and even of our customers. This is where communications play a crucial role. Sometimes, people are displeased not because they do not like the decision but because they do not have a full understanding of the reasons and how it benefits them. As some stakeholders benefit indirectly, a good communication plan should be in place.

4. Is it executable?

No matter how grand a decision or a plan is, if it can’t and won’t be executed, it’s nothing. I should be able to picture how it’s going to be done. I should be able to imagine it’s successful execution but at the same time anticipate execution challenges. The simpler the execution steps, the better. When people see that what you thought of can actually be done, they reconsider and give it a chance.

For as long as my answer to this 4-way test is a YES, then it’s a GO!

So next time you have to make a decision, be mindful that you’re doing it not to please everybody. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

And it’s good for your heart! ❤️



About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.