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Jacinda Ardern – Sounds Like a Leader

Jacinda Ardern – Sounds Like a Leader

Have you yet seen the New Zealand Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations in late September?  If not, go and find it now, then watch it a few times.

You will see and hear a leader.

Politics aside, I was simply in awe of her speaking style – it reeked of leadership. It almost makes me want to be a Kiwi – I said almost.

It is a shame that most of our Australian politicians cannot speak, present or have a conversation as effectively and naturally as Jacinda Ardern.

Leadership is about communication

I have written previously of the necessity for leaders to be able to clearly and concisely communicate their messages. Many think leadership is a badge, about being the boss. It is not that at all.

Leaders may have all the best ideas in the world yet, if they cannot communicate these ideas, and how to implement them, then the ideas are worthless.

Unfortunately, we see leaders in business, politics and sports spouting words and phrases to their audiences, yet the messages fail to reach their target.

Both the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition in Australian Federal politics are guilty of this failure. Yet they roll on with meaningless waffle and bombast.

Curiously, both these roles are filled by men!

Is it something deeper when I think of Ms Ardern’s speech to the UN, that the two Australian politicians who demonstrate leadership speaking styles are both women – Julie Bishop and Penny Wong?

So what was so great about Ms Ardern?

I saw a number of great speaking skills from the Kiwi PM.

She knew her audience. She spoke of issues that were important to her audience, not simply to her.

The rate of word delivery was fantastic. Ms Ardern used pauses to great effect. She let the audience absorb the idea she was presenting at the time, before moving to the next.

Her smile worked a treat – she wasn’t threatening or overbearing, and she was clearly fully engaged with her messages while enjoying the process.

The tone, pitch and level of her voice were effective tools in her communication.

Finally, the way her eyes made contact with all in the room, however briefly, meant that the audience felt they the only ones to whom she was speaking.

What is the answer for us?

Well, we could apply for New Zealand citizenship. Mmmm, maybe not.

We could demand that our leaders, political, business and sport make a greater effort to communicate, not simply spew words at us. Demand they stop the cliches and speak to us of actions and plans. Have them demonstrate not assert.

Finally, we could always instal more women in leadership positions. On the evidence to date they are the better communicators.

Ray Hartley

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