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The Conversation: Jacinda Ardern’s crisis leadership

/ Leadership

In case you missed it, I recommend reading Suze Wilson’s article at The Conversation on 6 April: Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response has been a masterclass in crisis leadership

Wilson highlights principles and examples from Ardern’s recent leadership across the areas of communication, enabling people to cope with change and persuading many to act for the collective good. She also acknowledges that “not everything has been perfect in New Zealand’s or Ardern’s COVID-19 response”, pointing out that expecting perfection from our leaders is unrealistic. These lessons are applicable to the large and small challenges we face in our own leadership, even informally with family or community members.

What stands out for me in Jacinda Ardern’s 23 March speech (included in the article) is her final message. She addresses directly a source of community friction: people acting as enforcers. Rather than shaming or mocking people, she empathises with their fear and anxiety. Without uttering the word “don’t”, she claims the enforcer role for the government on behalf of the community. Finally, she channels people’s energy into positive action – to be kind to each other – with practical examples.

In only a few sentences, she’s built foundations for reducing conflict in the community and lifted people up, connecting them through their common experience to see each other in a different – more generous – light, and valuing the role they play in the larger goals.

An inspiring example of leadership!

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