In a rapidly changing world that’s full of fresh challenges, good leadership is usually the deciding factor that helps us overcome these obstacles. We look to leadership figures when things get tough, so they can inspire and carry us forward.
This is especially true when looking at the last two years. The pandemic shone a light on businesses, organisations and governments, with their leaders taking centre stage to show us how we can persevere and prosper. Without them, things could have been a lot more worrying!
As part of International Leadership Week, we’ll be taking a closer look at why leadership is crucial across the world, some recent examples of great leadership, and what leadership skills are important to be successful in the current climate.
Why is leadership important?
The focus on leadership has never been greater than right now. While the pandemic itself has proven challenging, the ripple effect on businesses worldwide has meant that leaders from all over the globe have had to step up their game.
Leaders are the ones who motivate change, affecting the direction everyone moves in whether that’s for their team, business, or even their country. The best leaders ensure that everyone’s on the same page and understands why things are happening through clear communication.
This means that people act as a single, unified group and any action taken is more efficient. If people don’t trust or believe in their leaders, progress can be severely impeded. It’s important to remember that leadership isn’t a skill we’re inherently born with either. Leaders typically develop and actively work on their skills to produce better results for the people who depend on them.
Examples of great leadership
Over the last few years, several individuals have stepped up to face adversity and injustice head-on as leaders. Their actions serve as a benchmark for other leaders around the world, as well as being role models for people to look up to.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – New Zealand
Leading the New Zealand Government, PM Jacinda Ardern took control early on during the pandemic and put out detailed, readily-available information on their Covid response.
She established direct communication with the people of New Zealand via regular press conferences and didn’t shy away from difficult questions. Crucially, the decisive action led by Ardern has meant that New Zealand has among the lowest case numbers of any country.
Bono – Ireland
Leading the band U2 for over 40 years, Bono has served as an evocative frontman within their musical performances whilst also pushing the envelope for humanitarian work. He’s stuck to his vision for a better world for close to a decade without compromise.
From his involvement in Band Aid and Live Aid to raise money to combat famine in Ethiopia, to U2’s various donations to provide Irish healthcare workers with PPE and assist the global music industry recover from Covid, Bono is now one of the best know philanthropic performers in the world.
Colin Kaepernick – USA
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the pitch during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality, aligning with the BLM movement which was gaining momentum.
He staked his career to back his beliefs and inspired other NFL players to take similar stances of silent protest. Uncompromising in his values, Kaepernick’s campaign gained mass attention worldwide in spite of his NFL career seemingly being the cost of his activism.
What makes a good leader?
There are a number of qualities which the best leadership figures have in common. After looking at a range of inspiring and charismatic leaders in recent years, here are the qualities of a good leader which set them apart from the rest:
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that showing genuine empathy and compassion can be as inspiring as a rousing speech.
You can connect with people on a fundamental level, understanding another person’s viewpoint completely. This is an essential element of communication that will allow you to adapt what you’re saying by taking into consideration the audience you’re talking to.
Making difficult calls comes with the territory as a leader. People will look to you for making hard decisions, so you need to show confidence and avoid hesitation.
Thoroughly researching your options before committing to a direction can help you feel more confident in your choice, resulting in making one you feel more sure of.
Leadership means being visible and holding yourself to a higher standard. Displaying professionalism within your actions and holding yourself accountable for decisions shows you’re a person of your word.
Many leaders actively gather feedback on how they’re viewed, such as surveys and interviews, so they can strive to be their best self by working on fixing their weaknesses.
Acting as a true leader means being there for those who need you most.
You’re present for the big meetings and ready to jump into things at a moment’s notice when necessary. This doesn’t mean that you have to be available 24/7, but you will need to be where people expect you to be.
Being resourceful and inventive makes you a great problem-solver – something that people look at leaders to be.
The responsibility for fixing things won’t rest solely on your shoulders, but you’ll need to be able to identify the right path to take that’ll lead you to the right answer.
Being a leader in life
Now, defining leadership isn’t as simple as listing a set of criteria a leader needs. Someone can tick all the boxes and not be the world’s greatest leader – there’s a bit of a secret ingredient involved.
But, if you can capture these leadership qualities, chances are you’ll be a cut above the rest and stand a better chance of being someone people can put their trust in.
You also don’t need to be a leader to take these attributes on. When sharing your opinions, stay honest with yourself and your views. We want to know your real views when taking our surveys, so don’t be shy – tell us what you really think!