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#03 The Empathetic Leader Who Captured the World’s Admiration.

In the annals of history, there are leaders who leave an indelible mark on the world, transforming nations and inspiring hope in times of crisis.

Jacinda Ardern, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, is undoubtedly one such leader. Her exceptional crisis management, soft skills, and empathetic mindset set her apart and captured the admiration of the world.

Jacinda Ardern’s journey began nearly six years ago when she took up the mantle of Prime Minister. From the outset, she pledged to bring warmth and kindness to her office, a promise she never faltered on.

Her approach was characterized by empathy, a quality that became synonymous with her leadership style. As her senior ministers attested, she was there for the people, giving them strength and making them feel listened to and included.

Crises and Compassion. The defining moments of Jacinda Ardern’s leadership came in the face of devastating crises. New Zealand experienced unprecedented events, such as the eruption of the White Island volcano and the tragic terrorist attack on two mosques, which claimed 51 lives. Ardern responded with swift action, displaying compassion and solidarity with the affected communities. Within a month, she banned assault-style weapons, demonstrating her commitment to protecting her citizens.

Empathy and Effective Communication. Her genuine care for her country and its people was evident throughout her tenure. Her soft skills played a crucial role in navigating through difficult situations. Her ability to communicate effectively, listen to diverse perspectives, and connect with individuals on a personal level endeared her to many. Ardern’s leadership was not just about making decisions but about understanding and empathizing with the concerns of her citizens.

Resilience Amidst Criticism. However, as with any leader, she faced criticism and challenges, particularly from some segments of the farming community who felt that her policies were burdensome. Yet, Ardern’s resilience shone through, as she continued to focus on the well-being of New Zealanders at every turn.

Ardern’s Global Admiration and Domestic Criticism. One of the most defining moments of her tenure was her response to the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand’s decision to close its borders for 29 months was met with admiration globally, as it helped to keep the virus at bay. However, as plans for reopening the country faced opposition and vaccine mandates sparked protests, criticism grew, and her popularity suffered domestically.

Facing Misogyny and Hatred. Unfortunately, some of the criticism aimed at Ardern took a toxic turn, marked by misogyny and personal attacks. Despite the challenges, she remained steadfast and strong, refusing to be defined solely by the hatred that was directed towards her.

Ardern’s Global Legacy. Ardern’s international reputation as a shining star of compassionate leadership stood in contrast to the more polarizing views at home. Nonetheless, her legacy will be remembered worldwide for her immense empathy and the strength she brought to New Zealand in its time of need.

Mixed Farewell. In the end, Jacinda Ardern chose to step down from office, recognizing the challenges ahead and perhaps feeling the weight of public opinion. Despite her declining approval ratings, her departure was met with mixed feelings from New Zealanders. Some felt disappointed by unfulfilled promises and policy failures, while others recognized her genuine care for individuals and her remarkable ability to connect with people from all walks of life.

Ardern’s Compassionate Leadership and Legacy. Jacinda Ardern’s tenure as Prime Minister may have had its ups and downs, but her remarkable soft skills, compassionate mindset, and empathetic leadership distinguished her as a leader who left an enduring impact on her nation and the world. As she walked away from Parliament for the last time, the world bid farewell to a leader who had exemplified the true essence of compassionate leadership.

Summary of Key Moments in Jacinda Ardern’s Political Career:

New Zealand’s previous prime minister won global fame with youthful charisma and a frank, compassionate leadership style that carried her through the crisis.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister until the beginning of 2023, skilfully led her country through times of peace and crisis. Her 5 years in office were marked by crises such as the Christchurch assassination and the Corona crisis. 

Her feminist progressive values made her appear empathetic, close and thoughtful. Above all, she has strong communication skills. She gained an international reputation with them. 

With which soft skills, with which mindset did she convince?

  • She always communicated at equal level
  • She had a compassionate leadership style
  • She had an open and unfiltered communication style. 
  • She argued clearly, calmly and friendly.

That is why she convinced international people with her work. And she did this every day via communication channels like youtube, linkedin and twitter.

What valuable insights can we gain from Jacinda Ardern’s approach to crisis management?

Jacinda Ardern’s exemplary leadership offers valuable lessons for CEOs in communication, people and crisis management. Her genuine empathy and compassion fostered trust and a profound connection with the public. Through clear, authentic, and consistent communication, she highlighted the power of transparency in building a cohesive society. Embracing diverse perspectives showcased the value of inclusivity in effective governance. When facing crises, Ardern’s preparedness and decisive decision-making exemplified strong crisis management. Her resilience in the face of challenges emphasized the importance of staying focused on objectives. Moreover, she served as a role model for promoting gender equality and embracing diversity, fostering societal progress. Ardern’s emphasis on well-being and kindness highlighted the significance of supporting mental health in the workplace. Throughout her tenure, her humility and grace garnered respect and trust from all sides.

Interesting point of view:

  • Are you well prepared for crises?
  • You have a task force and a crisis manual?
  • You do crisis simulation training every six months?
  • What about your mindset?
  • How are your soft skills? 

Many crises become communication crises when people in leadership roles act wrongly in crises. These three management mistakes lead to PR crises:

1. Managers cover up mistakes.

2. They behave unprofessionally towards media representatives.

3. They make immense wrong decisions.

Source: Within the framework of the current trend report, Deutsche Presse-Agentur subsidiary— News Aktuell, together with “Faktenkontor,” both Hamburg, asked which behavior of a company’s management triggers PR crises. 

  • 231 specialists and managers of press offices from Germany took part in the survey.

Reflecting on Jacinda Ardern’s approach to leadership, which aspects do you find most inspiring, and how could you integrate some of these principles into your own leadership style?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments section.

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