Stepping-up to the Plate
Which leaders do you think have stepped up to the plate through this COVID-19 crisis? Certainly, some have exhibited better leadership qualities than others and I wanted to take the time to discuss Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has done some remarkable things, pioneering the way and demonstrating how to lead a country through crisis.
New Zealand implemented the strongest lockdown in early March, banned travelers from China, and closed borders to all nonresidents in mid-March. They were the only country that had the goal of eliminating the virus, and they succeeded (The Conversation). Jacinda Arden communicated clearly and consistently with New Zealanders. She hosted daily televised briefings and regular Facebook Live sessions. She even broadcasted from her home, simply just to check-in with everyone.
As seen in the beginning, she apologizes for not being in her professional clothes, relating to parents, and demonstrating a level of humanity. As she continues to explain the circumstances, Arden says, “we won’t see the positive benefits of all the effort you are about to put in for self-isolation… for at least 10 days. So don’t be disheartened” (The Atlantic). She took the extra effort to connect with New Zealanders and offer a sense of calm, direction, and reassurance.
The way Jacinda Arden and other health officials handled COVID-19 is a lesson to all leaders. Leaders cannot fix issues all by themselves, especially a global pandemic! Success is a collective effort, but how leaders prepare and prompt people to act plays a great role.
Rather than telling New Zealanders what to do, Arden works with them. As seen in her Facebook message, she seeks to resonate with them on a personal level. She acknowledges that this is a scary, uncertain time, and continues to explain why shelter in place procedures are necessary. Rather than sugar-coating the situation, she offers people realistic expectations. Even if people cannot see the effects of social distancing, Ardern reminded them that their actions make a difference. Informing and supporting people encouraged them to do their part.
A survey in early April found that 88 percent of New Zealanders trusted the government to make the right decisions about addressing COVID-19, and 84 percent approved of the government’s response to the pandemic. While no government is perfect, and it is important to critically analyze leaders, Jacinda Ardern’s care, compassion, and direction allowed her to successfully lead a country through the crisis.
As leaders, we can look to other leaders to continue developing and bettering ourselves. After spending some time learning about Jacinda Arden’s leadership, what aspects of her leadership do you relate to or aspire to adopt? Take some time to consider who you want to be and what you want to do with your own leadership. Try creating a To-Be List!
*Meet the Author*
Caroline is going on her third year with Leadership Inspirations. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Leadership Development and holds B.A.’s in Psychology and Integrated Educational Studies.
Favorite Quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” – Jane Goodall
Fun Facts: 1) I’m from Seattle 2) I LOVE Golden Retrievers 3) I have celebrated Holi in India