Leaders, plant appropriate seeds

  1. The seed of expressing empathy — for Ardern, empathy and strength can blend together into an amazing leadership style that focuses on the people and is for the people. She notes: “We need our leaders to be able to empathise with the circumstances of others; to empathise with the next generation that we’re making decisions on behalf of. One should ensure that their people feel loved, supported and taken care of, otherwise what’s the point of being the powerful leader in the room?”
  2. The seed of authentic communication — authentic leaders, like Jacinda Ardern, cultivate open and honest relationships through active self-disclosure. Her rhetoric is different, but the huge difference is that she seems to actually mean everything she says. That authenticity is rare in leaders and that is why she has achieved her huge success.
  3. The seed of honouring diversity and inclusivity (women, children and the disenfranchised) — in her cabinet, 40% are women, 25% are Māori (two in five of those are women), 15% are Pasifika (two in three are women), and 15% are LGBT — one of whom is Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. She notes: “If you cannot justify a decision when challenged, then perhaps you should think again. Challenge comes from diversity. The problem with most leaders is they select people like themselves, with similar blind spots, and hence they remain unchallenged.” Her approach to inclusivity leads to unity.
  4. The seed of decisiveness — “a leader will be able to make sound and timely decisions based on facts and relevant information. They have the ability to ask questions and consult further to fully understand the outcomes and ramifications of their decisions. A leader will make the decision and make a commitment to seeing it through.” She has the skill to act quickly and robustly. Leaders who look like they are in control, are agile, and make people feel safe, while at the same time coming across as relatable and personable, appeal to followers.
  5. The seed of focusing on her “true north” — to move your team through a crisis, staff need to have an expectation that you are moving towards something — a meaningful destination. Even in the face of adversity, people can move forward if they are provided with a believable call to action. Ardern shows staff where she is going and why. She helps them understand what their part is in helping her get there.
  6. The seed of personal consistency — Jacinda sets an example by behaving consistently according to the values she espouses. Not deviating from what she considers to be important, she encourages others not only to perceive the value behind decisions, but to work with her to accomplish a worthwhile human experience in New Zealand.
  7. The seed of humility — Ardern follows the ancient Greek maxim of knowing herself, and the ability to lead herself. She understands her strengths and her weaknesses. She notes: “Authentic leaders are aware of their own biases and strive to see things from multiple viewpoints. We cannot know all sides to an issue and must work to understand and respect others’ perspectives before forming opinions or making decisions. Acting in the best interests of the collective requires a lucid and compassionate understanding of how our actions affect other people.” Jacinda laughs at herself, acknowledges her mistakes, and seeks to rectify them.

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