In recent times I have lamented the absence of inspiring leaders on the world’s political scene. I’ve seen many examples of powerful, ego driven leadership, but not true leadership that inspires people to take action. That is until the Russian invasion of Ukraine catapulted President Zelensky into the world’s spotlight. The circumstances are terrible, and ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’.
As I write this, Ukrainian forces appear to be repelling Russian advances. Even more notable is the upswelling of support locally and across the world. Much support has arisen because of the situation but President Zelensky has shown authentic and inspiring leadership, the likes of which reminds me of Churchill in WWII. His leadership presents an example for all leaders to follow.
Inspiring Leadership Attributes
So how has President Zelensky provided inspiring leadership? Here are some of the qualities he has displayed:
- Clarity of Care & Vision: In his circumstances this is perhaps the most obvious. His message has been clear and compelling. We aren’t giving up, if we stand together we will win and we need the world’s help.
- Composure: This one is the most remarkable to me. In what must be an incredibly frightening and stressful time he has kept his composure completely. I can’t imagine how desperate he is for help and yet he has handled himself impeccably, while continuing to demand the support needed.
- Confidence: The situation is dire and in the face of adversity he is inspiring others to take action. His confidence isn’t misplaced, it is grounded in reality. He isn’t under calling the risks and he knows the chances of success are slim, and that is no reason not to resist.
- Integrity/Trustworthiness: I see an authentic leader. He isn’t saying one thing and doing another. He is visible and demonstrates he is staying in Kyiv. I was impressed he was honest about moving his family to a safer part of the country and then returning to the capital.
- Charisma: I was surprised to learn he started out as a comedian and he has a way with words. When the US offered him a safe haven, he responded ‘I don’t need a ride, I need ammunition’. True, and simply said in a way that inspires trust.
- Communication: He is visible, speaks to his nation regularly and in a way that is down to earth and easy to understand. There are no grandiose messages, just simple, tell it as it is communication.
- Courage: Real leadership requires courage to take a stand for what you care about. I can’t think of a more powerful example.
If you are looking for a leadership role model, you can do a lot worse than President Zelensky. I suspect Putin has unleashed something he will live to regret, something more powerful than military might. A true, authentic and inspiring leader that millions of people will want to willingly follow.