In celebration of Women’s History Month, my editors and I decided to produce a series of features that would showcase women on Guam who have made a significant impact on the community and displayed leadership in their respective fields.
As the first Chamorro woman to become president of the Bank of Guam, and with her track record as a lawmaker, Lou Leon Guerrero was the first woman we chose to feature.
Do your research, learn about it as much as you can, be very confident in yourself and don’t let anybody say that you can’t do what you want to do.
– Lou Leon Guerrero
My Best Friend’s Mom
When I was in preschool, my best friend was Mariana Cook, and her mom, Lou Leon Guerrero, was a nurse at the Guam Memorial Hospital. Mariana and I were classmates at the Child Development Center in Tamuning.
Lou worked with my grandma, who was an assistant nursing supervisor at the time. Lou was also friends with my mom and helped out when my mom wrote a play and decided to produce it.
To be honest, I didn’t know too much about Lou. There’s not much incentive to learn about your best friend’s parents when you’re 5 years old. I remember that Mariana was my leader, and told me what to do a lot. I don’t remember minding too much, since I was an introvert and needed someone to show me the ropes.
When I moved to Hawaii with my mom, I lost touch with Mariana and only reconnected with her through Facebook after we’d grown up.
When I returned to Guam and started working for the paper, Lou’s name came up a lot now that she was president and CEO of the Bank of Guam. A few years before I arrived, Lou left her seat as senator in the local Legislature to lead the bank. Throughout the year I’d been working for the paper, I saw her broker loans for the local government to help pay for the reconstruction of public school facilities and pay hospital vendors.
Lou’s story ran on March 9, a day after International Women’s Day. As I reflected on some of the advice she gave to all working women, I couldn’t help but take some of the nuggets of wisdom to heart.
One thing I particularly appreciated was that she embraced her compassion and passion for helping others as one of the qualities that made her a leader.
Owning my leadership
She reminded me a lot about leaders that I’d researched in grad school that we called servant leaders.
A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
My cohort of graduate students aspired towards our own brand of leadership, one that suited us best based on our own personalities and ethics. But the foundation of our academic work and personal growth began with the book “The Servant as Leader” by Robert Greenleaf.
Few things have changed since I was 5 years old. I still prefer to be led than to lead. But Lou’s desire to make a positive impact on her community reminds me that I fulfill a small leadership role in the community. The choices I make in my life and in my work reflect my own leadership style.
Now that I write for the paper, I have a professional responsibility to prioritize the needs of the people who read my stories. I aspire to serve my community of readers as best I can. If I’m good enough at doing that, then it’s not so far-fetched that these readers might look to me for information. And that’s what leaders do, isn’t it?
Along with the rest of my team of reporters, we take a responsibility for the things we write. We keep our community informed of the events and policies that will affect them and their future. Although it feels arrogant to say that we’re leaders in our field, we hold ourselves accountable and strive for excellence as leaders would.
I think it’s the responsible thing to do to acknowledge that our role in the media is one of leadership.