A Leadership Lesson from Down Under

Day 21

This morning, during my daily social media scroll I came across an article discussing the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern’s possible solution to economic recovery from COVID-19. Ardern first came to my attention with her swift ban on semi-automatic guns in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. I was immediately impressed and continued to watch her leadership moves.

Her latest move is a refreshing response, the likes of which we have yet to see from other leaders. Most leaders are putting road maps in place for communities/organizations to return to the same place we were prior to the global pandemic. But instead of this quest to return to business as usual, Ardern is wondering out loud, what it would look like if employers and employees invested in a four day work week. She proclaimed the benefits of work/life balance as well as the benefits for their country’s  tourism.  If this became a reality, people would have more than just the weekend to visit tourist destinations, frequent restaurants etc. Ardern is forging a road map to a different place, a different way of life and from a first blush this looks like a healthier new destination.

In revisiting how Ardern has positioned herself as a leader throughout the devastation of COVID-19, I’ve been impressed by both her formal and informal connection with others.  In her Facebook post, published just prior to the country “hunkering down”, in her jeans and sweatshirt, she addressed her fellow New Zealanders in a manner that was calm, kind and humane.  There was no arrogance. There was no sense of, “I’m off to something more important”. There was no sense of urgency.  There was no sense of ego. There was an overwhelming sense of “we’re in this together.” It reminded me of a FaceTime conversation that I would have with a good friend.

Evening everyone. Thought I’d jump online and answer a few questions as we all prepare to stay home for the next wee while. Join me if you’d like!

Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Like many, I’m excited to watch how New Zealand, with Ardern’s leadership, emerges from COVID-19 restrictions and re-imagines a new sense of community.  This is such a wonderful model for other leaders to consider. Not specifically the four day work week, but to take the possibilities of this pandemic to re-vision, re-think and re-imagine what their organizations could look like.

How are you using the possibilities of this pandemic to re-vision, re-think and re-imagine your organization?

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