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Friday, 04 March 2022 15:31

Lessons in Leadership from Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is obviously at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts at the moment. The USA and European countries have demonstrated remarkable solidarity in condemning the invasion and by imposing harsh economic sanctions on Russia, risking the stability of their own economies. We’ve seen exceptional generosity too as citizens of neighbouring countries take Ukrainian refugees into their own homes.

The standout point for us though from the whole affair has been the remarkable leadership demonstrated by the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

As an organisation for which Leadership is a fundamental element, we are quick to recognise and applaud Mr Zelenskyy who is demonstrating all of the characteristics of an excellent leader and has already become an example to which other leaders, whether in politics or business, should aspire.

After earning a Law Degree, President Zelensky became an actor and comedian, started a TV production company and starred in an immensely popular Ukrainian television show called Servant of the People in which he plays the President of Ukraine. His character, initially a high school history teacher, is propelled to the country’s top job after a video of him ranting against corruption in the country goes viral.

Anti-corruption was a key policy of Zelenskyy’s campaign whilst running for the real presidency of Ukraine, which he won with 73% of the vote.

President Zelenskyy is clearly a leader for his time. His TV and film experience has clearly been an invaluable asset when communication channels are reduced to social media and selfie videos; but more than that, he has exhibited authenticity and leadership through example. Here’s how we see Mr Zelenskyy’s key traits:

Authentic Leadership: Mr Zelenskyy is true to his beliefs and lives them passionately. His anti-corruption standpoint may have first seen light through his fictional presidential character in his TV show, but his presidency has been built on the same, fundamental beliefs, even if his attempts at reform are rejected by the country’s parliament. He clearly wants to deliver the President that people voted for.

Presenteeism: Despite facing superior weaponry, Mr Zelenskyy has asked his countrymen to stand fast and resist the country’s aggressors. Where heads of state often flee or are ushered to safety in times of crisis, he understands that he must face the same challenges that he has asked of his people and so has remained in the capital city Kyiv, putting himself at great risk.

Communication: As we have said, Mr Zelenskyy’s media experience has stood him in good stead for communicating in a digital world. Indeed, his presidential campaign was largely done virtually and online. However, communication isn’t just about how, it’s also about what and the Ukrainian President’s message has remained clear and unambiguous throughout. He’s also been incredibly honest. None of the Ukrainian people who are staying in their country to take a stand are under any illusion of the risk they are exposing themselves too. Sometimes, people appreciate it when their bad news isn't sugar coated.

Resilience: Despite the military odds being overwhelmingly stacked against Ukraine, the country’s president has engendered a spirit and stoicism that has meant Russia has been unable to meet its military objectives during its campaign. It’s not over yet of course but where President Putin had expected Ukraine to simply roll over to his aggression, he has definitely had his fingers burnt.

Moreover, there is no doubt that it is Mr Zelenskyy’s leadership that has generated the support amongst Western countries during this crisis. His authentic leadership style has won him followers across the world.

We hope to see a peaceful end to the Ukrainian invasion without further escalation and a resolution that results in the country retaining its sovereignty. The damage already incurred however is sure to leave scars that will take many years to heal. Our thoughts remain with the people of Ukraine.

 

Read 391 times Last modified on Friday, 04 March 2022 15:38

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