Once upon a time, a fierce lion, the self-assumed king of the forest, decreed that his power and authority made it inappropriate for him to hunt his prey, so each animal from the forest was to offer himself as the King’s meal every day.
Although many followed this autocracy hands down, a rabbit one day decided to take charge… What happened after that is HISTORY.
I have often seen that leadership is not a position that many people desire to possess. We generally assume leadership is something ‘everyone cannot achieve’. We undervalue our capacities and capabilities as TRUE CATALYSTS to such an extent that we tag Leaders as something larger than life.
Outstanding leaders strike a fine balance between traits, abilities, behaviors and situations, and accomplish group objectives. Therefore, any member of any group, at any one time, may assume a leadership role.
Leaders are CATALYSTS. They possess the confidence to build self-esteem in others and still maintain a strong degree of integrity in themselves.
They are flexible with ideas and open to a variety of solutions and viewpoints. The key is to “see the forest through the trees” and have the ability to effectively meander through a variety of hurdles and obstacles, yet not lose focus.
These are all what TEXTBOOKS say!
But what, I believe, is the ONE quality that makes an effective leader is AUTHENTICITY. When you are authentic, you use both your emotions and your rational mind, both your empathy and your authority, you are assertive and vulnerable, you rule and accept to be challenged.
Authentic leaders are guided by sound moral convictions and act in concordance with their deeply held values, even under pressure.
The one person I’ve been able to identify to have all these ingredients in the right measure is Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand – open, honest, effective and authentic.
To become Prime Minister of New Zealand as a 37-year-old woman, Ardern surely demonstrated ambition, authority and a taste for competition.
The way she dealt with her maternity while in office was a total innovation. She never tried to cover up what she was going through in her personal life, she simply showed it was perfectly ok to be off for a few weeks without jeopardizing the government’s stability. A true and evident reflection of authenticity.
The media showed us how she “naturally” empathized with the victims of a terror attack, how she did not seem to be preoccupied by how she should react, but simply grieved with people, as one of them.
“We’re fine,” she declared cheerfully as the 5.9-magnitude quake shook New Zealand’s parliament house in Wellington for 15 seconds, while attending a live television interview; “I’m not under any hanging lights.”
Her coolness under pressure, self-discipline and the decisiveness of her government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led some to call Ardern the most effective national leader in the world.
Ardern is a natural and empathetic communicator who doesn’t preach at people, but instead signals that she’s “standing with them”
If Jacinda Ardern makes a difference, it is because she does not pretend to be someone else, she does not try to fit in a costume that has not been designed for her nor for anyone nor for anyone who wants to be an authentic and human leader.