Updated: May 17
I had a conversation with someone recently who suggested leaders are born. This blog is based on a leader who rose during the most turbulent of times and so it begs the question are they born, or made? And is there a lesson here for organizations, do we give leaders space to lead? Do we support them to rise?
If given the opportunity, great leaders will rise in the most difficult of times.
This leader's qualities are endless, we don't have room for the complete list, so I’ll start with the magic 4 – People, Purpose, Trust & Communication.
Great leaders rally to attain what’s needed to satisfy the most basic of needs, taking responsibility to create safety and ensure wellbeing. And, no matter how turbulent the environment, they continue to honour and recognise their internal heroes both personally and publicly, regularly. And they empower their people with the autonomy needed to get the job done. They genuinely care.
Great Leaders are first and foremost for their People.
They’re driven by purposeful endeavours, uniting people via this common cause and engaging the community for global support by ensuring they see how their purpose will also impact them. All communication can in some way be tied back to this purpose. And with this, they command the resilience needed to march through the most worrying of days.
They seek the truth; and tell it. It’s rare for these leaders to communicate without a commitment to see it through, and because they follow through, they are relied on by many. They story tell with a library of facts that reinforces their image as a truthteller. They seek fairness, equity and justice for all, inclusive of their people, communities and rivals. They are both truth seekers and truth tellers.
Communication is their weapon. To unite, to rally, to inform, to connect. Their communication is constant, daily, via multiple channels for example videos, emails, letters, phone, webinars, social media, face to face – they recognize the power of words! This translates into leaders described as transparent and open. And this approach is consistent across their entire team. It’s strategic.
On the topic of Strategy, it’s a key focus. However, they don’t go it alone, they surround themselves internally and externally with talented advisers – constantly seeking counsel and intel on their internal and external surroundings. During turbulent times. you’ll hear them talking about and planning for their recovery as well as crisis management. They balance both.
They craft their communication interlinking future plans with the present day to day crisis.
During a crisis, they lead from the front often seen in amongst the trenches as I like to call it, and so they're called courageous and brave. They move mountains to source what’s needed for their people to get through the day to day, also finding opportunity to celebrate small wins, whilst still in crisis. They don’t presume a crisis in one region, means a crisis across all therefore their approach is crisis management in parts, business as usual elsewhere.
They build organisational resilience by connecting the current day crisis to their rich history to savour the good times, to their purpose to engage the heart, and to the prosperity that will come after recovery, inspiring hope.
And their personal attributes stand out.
They are selfless in their endeavours. You don’t hear them referring to their own needs or making achievements personal, their focus is always their people and what they achieved in unity. They inspire the masses when they communicate with conviction about their purpose, people, future and history. And they are not afraid to ask for help. Their vulnerability is a part of their armour. They ask for support and are not afraid of publicly doing so, because their no 1 concern is their people and their future. They choose when to be steadfast and stoic, and when to show concern, empathy and grief. They are wise with their emotions.
They are the President of Ukraine.
This piece has taken 3 months to write because my personal attachment to Ukraine through my husband and children meant the grief needed to first flow. President Zelensky will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders of all time, and instils pride in our Ukrainian heritage.
In crisis, greatness arises.
My hope is that through his leadership, we all grow as leaders, because he’s shown the world the importance of Purpose, People, Trust, Communication, Fairness and Equity in building resilience, courage, commitment and a following.