Glued to the television news and watching the events in Europe unfold has provided a rare glimpse into the makeup of real courageous leadership.
Separate yourself from politics and personal preference, and you would be hard-pressed not to applaud the leadership being shown by the President of Ukraine!
If we were able to superimpose today’s social media availability, I am sure we would be looking on with Awe as other leaders have stood up in history – Consider Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill gave one of the most inspiring speeches in history, while Britain was alone against Adolf Hitler in 1940 – sound eerily familiar?
Churchill pronounced with unwavering certainty,
"We will go on to the End we shall fight on seas and oceans, with growing confidence, growing strength in the air, and we will defend our island, regardless of the cost. We will fight on the beaches, on the landing ground, in the streets and on the hills. We will not surrender”
Britain won the war against Hitler's Germany thanks to Churchill's inspiring words.
People look up to leaders in times of crisis for hope and inspiration. Great leaders inspire others with their passion, energy, and confidence.
The internet is full of narratives attempting to explain why Zelensky has emerged as such a powerful leader in his country.
While the spotlight and praise are well-deserved, it overlooks an important point. Leaders are not only known for their inner characteristics. They also display the ability to recognize and reflect the values and identities of those they lead.
Historically, psychologists have suggested that we are drawn to leaders who mirror the uniqueness we identify in ourselves. These people are not typical members of our social constructs, but they're the ones we place in positions of authority.
They are specifically singled out as the people who we consider to be exemplifying our ideals and acting in our best interests.
In March of 2019, the world watched Jacinda Arden Prime Minister of New Zealand, stand out as the leader who mirrored the ideals of her people.
Listen to her words: “Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand; they may even be refugees here….They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand” The words captured the needs of the time and those she led – not backlash but inclusion – The perpetrator has no place here, but you do –
"Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand; they may even be refugees here….They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us"
Two parts Empathy One Part Service
Leaders are not just the best version of themselves. Leaders must also be able to fulfil the aspirations and dreams of those they lead. This requires empathy and humility.
We all hope that we never have to have the same physical courage as President Zelensky or his citizens. We can still be inspired by their unwavering commitment to each other.
Zelensky is a great leader because he can see what his people need, and tries to provide it for them despite incredible odds. Leaders of all stripes should learn from Zelensky's example and put others first over fear and ego.
Ukrainian Phrase Banned by Russia
Consider the powerful words ending every unifying selfie, as Zelensky reminds his people, and his enemies that he has not fled – Slava Ukraini, "glory to Ukraine."
This special phrase, not chosen by chance, is especially hated by Russia – In fact, it was banned by Russia during the tenure of the Soviet Union. Yet now, in the hands of a courageous leader, it is a call to arms and a beacon of hope.
This leader, who was once Ukraine's top comedian, now stands as their leader seeing clearly what his people need, has turned out to be more Churchill than Carlin.
Zelensky is a great leader because he can see what his people need, and tries to provide it for them despite incredible odds
Leaders of Conequence Display 5 Unmistakable Traits:
Courageous leaders know their purpose and follow it. They recognize their responsibility to use the skills, education, opportunities and influence they have been given to solve complex problems and accomplish great results. They may have to do things that no other person should ever be asked to - Case in point Zelensky. Even though most people spend their entire lives studying for leadership, it is important that, when called on, we are the leaders the world needs.
Great leaders have the courage to live out their purpose even in difficult situations. In times of prosperity, it is easy to discuss our convictions from the comfort of easy chairs and government offices. Would our leaders demonstrate the fearless commitment of Zelensky?
Outstanding leaders of their time perform well under pressure and times of uncertainty. There is no plan to handle the risks and uncertainties Zelenskyy faced. There is no plan to deal with an unprovoked attack by a superpower from another nation. Zelenskyy has not hesitated or responded rashly. Leaders of president Zelensky’s grade are calm, rational, in charge. They recognize that panic breeds fear, and that calm infuses confidence.
Leaders who emerge during times of crisis communicate often, authentically, and truthfully. They speak to our hearts and communicate to our intellect. Their natural intuition when and how they can give the hard truth or realistic hope. Zelenskyy as well as other crisis forged leaders are open about the lack of resources, but they also remind us that we are blessed with family, friends, faith, and health.
Consistent leaders put the interests of others before their own. Zelenskyy is not alone in putting the public interest above his own. While leaders often measure their success globally, crisis born leaders measure their impact against the well being of their people. We must rethink how we measure the success and effectiveness of our leaders.
Uncertainty remains as to when the conflict will end and how. Equally true, is that there is no way of knowing how these events will impact the global community.
What we do have is a front-row seat to extraordinary leadership in action.
If you aspire not just to lead, but to be extraordinary in the way you do, remember the formula – 2 Parts Empathy and 1 Part Service, and watch Zelensky to see the results in action!